When you think of me I imagine you see me as the woman in the banner at the top of this website. Well, yes, that is me, the woman who will turn 60 in April, but a whole lot of the time I feel just like the little girl above with the pony tail and bunny slippers, in fact, I feel like that a whole lot!
It is not about being immature, it is about retaining a kind of innocence, a child-like sense of wonder, no matter what you may have been through in your life. I truly believe if that child stays alive inside of you you can make it through anything, you can be anything, DO anything, and keep moving forward, if not physically anymore, jumping rope, doing cartwheels, and running faster than the wind down the hill with your little dog on your heels you can do those things in your mind (I do!). That little girl is still very much alive in me. And she is very present. All children are. I often think about taking a walk with a little child and a block can take forever. They stop to look at a bug on the sidewalk and then stop to look at a tiny wildflower growing up between a crack. Then there is a pretty little rock, and Oh! Lookie! That lady has a little puppy. And on they go, and on I go every time I go outside with the dogs. I often come in with pretty little rocks and treasures and wildflowers (I love to pick bouquets of dandelions. I just love dandelions!) and even nice sticks to use for nature art or weaving. Little handmade looms are wonderful. The world is so full of so many wonders. Every day I am amazed by the things I find.
Sometimes I sit at a family gathering where I am the grandmother and watch all of my children, in their 30’s, and their wonderful spouses, and my grandchildren, 20 months and 9 years old, and I can hardly keep from giggling. I have my Grandma clothes on but that little girl inside of me is about to BUST OUT. One of my children said to me, years ago, “Mom, you’re the youngest kid in the family.” We laughed but it is so true! (Well, maybe I’m a little older than the grandkids, at least the baby!)
I am smiling so big writing this I wish you could see me. I am filled, most of the time, with pure, unadulterated JOY. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense, I suppose, having spent a few decades in therapy and having a basket-full of peculiarities that seem always to be part of the landscape of my life, and I can have some hard, sad, teary, falling-aparty days, but they pass pretty quickly. I return to the things that make me feel safe in this world in this life I have designed that is odd to some but just right for me and then my little girl can come back out to play. I really like her. A lot.
It made me think about a couple of things. First of all I feel sad that I had so many problems with my mother our whole life together. There were some pretty serious difficulties, and things were never able to be resolved enough for us to have ongoing peace between us, although I think we both wanted it, in our hearts, and we both tried, and we both made peace at the end before she died and had a very few loving months of communion between us which I will be eternally grateful for, but I feel very sad that I could only ever see her as The Mother. The one who could get mean, angry, abusive, who frightened me, made me so fearful I didn’t want to be around her. Now, today, I realize how much fear and pain were behind all of that for her but as long as your mother is alive, even if you are in your 50’s and she is in her 80’s, it is nearly impossible to break free of the place where she is the mother and you are forever the hurt, angry, disappointed, sad little girl. Lord what a messy heartbreaking dynamic. And the sad thing is that there is no one left to ask. Finally when you are the older generation all of the people you might have been able to talk to about these things are gone.
I wish I could have seen the little girl in her. The one that was afraid herself, but also the one that still had dreams, and in her mind laughed and played, and did hopscotch. I bet that little girl was still inside of her somewhere, I’d like to think so. I used to watch her and she could really laugh and she had a wonderful laugh. She always seemed so happy with her friends and was much loved by them. This was never true between us because we both tried too hard, or were uneasy or walking on eggshells with one another, or simply not getting along. She’s been gone 4 years now and I feel wistful when I think about her.
One of the things about living alone with animals is that you can be silly and goofy and they don’t mind, and as pugs are kind of silly and goofy dogs we have a wonderful time together. I think it’s easier to be mindful, or so I imagine, if you live alone with a house full of animals because animals live absolutely in the present, they are my greatest teachers and often bring me back when I am going adrift. They eat when they eat, play when they play, sleep when they sleep, and love when they love (which with pugs is all the time as long as they are awake!). The pugs are the little Buddhas in the house who remind me to be mindful.
I am doing a lot of very serious, very deep work now, and this is the predominant part of me. My work is my heart work, the reason I am here, I truly believe this. For balance I need to let the little girl come out to play. I think next time I am able to go to the Dollar Store I will have to get a few things to put in my little girl basket, things like crayons, bubbles — I love bubbles, I usually have bubbles! — and OH! I love Play-doh. It’s the smell of the Playdoh you know. There is nothing like opening a can of Playdoh. That smell. It takes you right back. And the smooth brand new mound of playdoh. I think it is very therapeutic, just to moosh and putter around with it. And I love dolls, tiny ones, and especially handmade ones.
I love to make dolls. This is Leonardo, I love him, I made him years ago and I still have him. I used to go to yard sales that had baby clothes and buy piles of the little soft cotton corduroy overalls and cut them up and use the material to make little dolls. And I like featureless dolls, and Leonardo’s hair is dyed wool locks. I have tons and tons of wool because I am a handspinner and fiber artist. I love to spin and plan to start again soon, just for the sheer joy of it. Spinning, all fiber arts really, is a very mindful activity. But here is Leonardo…
I think you must never lose your sense of childlike wonder and if you feel like you did lose it along the way I think you should do everything you can to find it again. Open up the secret door to that lost world and invite her (or him) to come out to play…