Friday, July 30, 2010

What I learned in 91 days

If you're the observant type, you'll notice that I was quite regular in posting up till Day 8 and now, have magically skipped to Day 91, which was Wednesday. Fear not, I assure you all of the days did, in fact, occur and were filled with play. I learned a lot about myself in that time, namely, I am not equipped to write daily in a blog. I prefer to keep my experiences in my head for the most part so that when the time comes that fingers are at the keyboard and I'm struggling with what to write in my next novel, I will actually have words to write. I have developed a new admiration for people who can write daily blogs and also have a life/work/play. Apparently, I am not in your ranks. I did, however, complete one novel in the past 91 days and have begun another. Onward.

Although the 91 playgrounds concept was to go to a playground everyday with my children, I found that too much of a good thing is exactly that--too much. Children (and grownups) can play in more places than the the past 91 days, we made sandcastles on the beach, swam in the pool, watched free movies at the theater, read books, rode bikes, visited the library, aquarium, children's museum, went to Atlanta, Columbia, Sumter, Kiawah, stayed in hotels, ate in restaurants, saw dinosaur bones, went fishing, had playdates, read some more books, painted pictures, did gymnastics, played t-ball, went to the zoo, celebrated birthdays, had sleepovers on the third floor, and on and on. Okay, perhaps I'm not quite as in shape as I would have liked, but my son has officially grown an inch in the past 5 weeks and my daughter's front tooth is about to fall out. I discovered a hair straightening device that makes me very happy. And a happy mom is a happy family. We have had a wonderful summer together! The kids will be starting school soon and that makes me a little sad.

But here's the biggest thing that happened since I started this blog. 91 days ago, when I decided I wanted to learn how to play with my kids, to be a stick in the mud no longer, and then I really started paying attention and playing, guess what happened? God must have heard the callings of my heart because this fall I'll have about 150 chances each week to play and become child-like again. I believe, as a direct result of my tuning in to my own kids, a new opportunity opened up for me. Many of you know I have a degree in illustration from SCAD and paint the covers of my novels. I have accepted a position with a local school to be an art teacher for next year! I'm even starting to act like an art teacher. I asked the lady at Target for all of her old shoe boxes (not sure what we're going to do with them yet, suggestions welcome), I recycled and washed the nylon top to a beach umbrella someone had thrown away (might paint and turn into giant color wheel!) and when asked to go to Nathalie Dupree's house this week for a luncheon in honor of a local poet, I accepted her challenge of dressing as a poem and came as Carl Sandburg's "Fog".

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on

I cut an apple, carved a paw print out of it, dipped in blue paint, and made little cat prints to put all over my white jacket. Apple prints? Oh yeah, art teacher in the making! I have to say, I'm a little terrified, a little thrilled about the whole thing, but I love a good challenge, and I have to say--I love kids. Kids have it all, imagination, energy, excitement. What a privilege to be able to spend time with mine each day. How much better to be able to spend with 150 each week?

So what can you learn from my 91 playground experiment? I hope that whatever inklings you might have, no matter how crazy they seem (starting a blog and trying to play on 91 playgrounds in 91 days), that you'll at least START something. So what if you don't finish exactly the way you set out to? You might just find that you're supposed to take the first step and God will take over after that and lead you in unimaginable, wonderful new directions you never even knew were in your future.

Just get creative. And take baby steps. And remember not to take yourself too seriously. Oh, and also remember to approach life playfully every day. As a very wise friend of mine once said, if you want to remain young at heart, surround yourself with children.

Amen, Irene. I will.

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