You Are Allowed To Play

I used to hate mornings.  And I grew up told never to hate anything.  But I did.  I hated mornings.

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They were cold and dark.  I was ripped from sleep by either a far-too joyful mother singing worship songs or an annoying alarm buzzer as I got older.  Rushed through a morning checklist, I hustled out the door, sleepy-eyed and full of dread for what the day held.  Whether off to school or off to a “death-by-office” job, mornings were just no good.

This week while I was walking the neighborhood in the newly risen sunlight, I remembered how I used to feel about mornings.  Oh, how opposite it is now.  And I know it’s a phase -currently our oldest children are big enough to make themselves breakfast and play when they get up and our youngest sleeps until 9 or 10am.  But it’s a phase I’m loving and will love for the rest of my days.

I wake when my body tells me to and I slip downstairs for some magical me time.

A cup of hot tea or lemon water, journaling The Artist’s Way morning pages (oh, I love these and highly recommend them to everyone!), and then I head out for a long walk in the neighborhood.

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The spring rains filled a small creek bed in a field I walk along.  As I started crossing the bridge I though, “wouldn’t it be fun to wade in it?”  I dismissed it as childish and silly.  Then, I checked myself.  Those playful urges bring DELIGHT.  Seize them.

Off came my shoes, my socks and I navigated the muddy bank to step in the chilled water.


I spent ten or fifteen minutes slowly walking along, looking at bugs, plant roots and slimy rocks.  Listening to the birds singing.  The water babbling.

Isn’t this what life is about?  These kinds of moments?

Mornings have transformed for me.  As I walk back to the house, I cannot stop smiling.  The magic of creation surrounds me, so fresh and ready to greet, happy to be discovered and enjoyed.  I. Am. FILLED.

And a similar magic fills my heart as we’ve (finally-as I’ve always dreamed and often tried to make this a family habit) started reading aloud chapter books before bed.  My big kids flank me on the couch and I dive into Beverly Clearey’s world of Beezus and Ramona, voices and all.  Reading chapter books -particularly the Boxcar Children and the Narnia series- were traditions I cherished with my dad.  The last book he and I read aloud together was inspiration for our daughter’s name, Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott.

Last night I received a few pieces of disappointing news. One was professional, the other financial.  Instead of despair and worry, I felt those float away and I felt an unfamiliar sense of the present and of future provision.  That, despite the setbacks, we -and I- would be just fine.  “On to the next” -and when I’ve said that to myself before it was always with shoulders drooped.  But not this time.  For the first time in ages, I truly felt and believed that, “Oh, well.  So maybe not this thing/client/source of funds, but there is plenty ahead.”  Only one time can I recall a similar sense of peace.  And it’s been far too long between.

I believe there is a connection between self-care and a positive state of mind.  I grew up with the premise that you should always be positive, try your hardest and do what you’re told, but self-care was not part of the formula.  It was actually frowned upon because you were probably just being lazy.  Come on, get going. If you’d started the project when I asked, you’d be done by now -chop, chop!  You were told to have peace in your heart, but not shown how to achieve it except that it was put there by God if you made sure to have your quiet devotions.  That was your self-care.  And, granted, that’s helpful.  But I had it skewed in my mind, all associated with guilt.

As I’ve let myself indulge in play and what delights me, I find I come alive.  Creativity rushes to meet me.  Life is finally fun!  And that I want so very much to teach my children.  Through unschooling and exploring life together, I have the opportunity to provide that for them daily.  Let my freedom be theirs.  Let us allow our children to delight in life as we re-learn it for ourselves -and learn from them.



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