I Am All About the Pep Talks These Days

The kids are off school today for a teachers’ conference. It was beautiful out this morning–temperature in the 70s, just slightly cloudy, a little breezy–so we hiked it on down to the park that bumps up against our neighborhood (and by hiked, I mean, drove. I won’t tell you that it’s just a mile away. I will tell you that I’ve a 3-year-old who will sit down in the middle of a sidewalk when he doesn’t feel like walking anymore, and that hill back to our house is steep. I was not feeling patient enough to suggest such insanity as walking). It’s a picturesque setting: the creek rolls slowly by, trees surround us, and there’s very little traffic. If you completely ignore the fact that there’s a huge quarry pit on the other side of that hill right there, and that the vague traffic noise you hear is from the cars entering the Wegmans/Target shopping center just another half-mile through those trees over there, it’s really quite peaceful.9-21-16-writing-play-creekI told Saoirse that I’d like to get some writing done while she and her siblings played–we had the place to ourselves, I’m on a roll, and dammit, if I can’t be at that retreat I was just telling you about, the least I can do is write like I’m there–and she told me that she didn’t mind at all. “I mean, Mom,” she said. “If we don’t need you for anything, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do what you want to do.”9-21-16-writing-play-trees-and-sunFor two hours, they played. I wrote. I jotted down plot points as they came to me, rapid-style. I chased index cards that flew away in the breeze, and recycled old soda cans other people had left behind after the kids pointed them out (“That is NOT GOOD for the environment, Mom!”).  I helped children swing and hang from monkey bars and wiped a few tears (“My tummy hurts.” “Quinlan pushed me.” “I CAN’T GET MY SHOE ON!”), and in between I wrote some more. There was no writer’s block. It was just how I’ve always wanted to write: jump out. Jump right back in. It’s like all of the frustration in this past year has boiled up into this little fountain of words. It’s so weird. It’s kind of awesome. 9-21-16-writing-play-sk-playingI gave the kids a snack and wrote a bit more. I resurfaced in enough time to tell them that the plant they were exploring in the woods was, yes, most probably poison ivy. We said goodbye to the park (I mean that. My children actually said goodbye), packed up and drove over to the farm market that’s near our house (“Oh, hey!” the farmer said. “I haven’t seen you in a while.” Kids, sir. I have kids in school and activities again. No time for such grand things like buying local vegetables and actually cooking them) for apples and zucchini and homemade cheese.9-21-16-writing-play-quinlan-slideWe came back home. The kids finished jelly sandwiches (yes, I’d just bought fresh food for their lunch. No, you’re not going to judge me) and ran off to watch Odd Squad on my iPad. “Just for a little while!” I called, but who am I kidding. I’m writing. They could start watching Game of Thrones and I’d be like, “Okay, now. But just close your eyes at the naughty parts, okay?” I’m in the zone, man. Gird yourselves.9-21-16-writing-play-cian-climbingWhen we were at the park earlier, Saoirse jumped off the monkey bars and walked over to me. Her palms were facing out. “Mom,” she said. “I have blisters on my hands.” When I looked, I saw how red and raw her skin looked. A couple of the blisters had already popped. There was nothing I could do until we got home, and she didn’t really seem to be bothered by them that badly. She’d just started learning the uneven bars at gymnastics, so those little hands had already been through a rough week. “It’s what happens, sweetie,” I told her, “when you’re trying something new. But you’re going to get stronger the more you practice, and before you know it, your hands won’t hurt at all.” She ran off to play again, and I sat back down at the dirty blue metal picnic table, returning to my work once again.9-21-16-writing-play-sk-monkey-barsWhat do you try to do, but are afraid of? What do you want to practice, but get thrown off from by the blisters and raw skin and hurt ego? You know what mine is, clearly. The writing–that first dive into putting it out there, putting myself out there last year–it was enough have me swimming in protective gauze and aloe (you say aloe, I say cabernet) for a bit way too long. But forget that. I’m back. What about you? What are your uneven bars?9-21-16-writing-play-quinlan-climbingWe all have them, those monkey bars. But the question, really, is this: how can you learn to swing from them and not worry about the blisters? What do you need to do to just climb up there and, well, fly?9-21-16-writing-play-cian-slideI’ll let you answer that question for yourself (though I really would love it if you filled me in on the answer). For me, I needed to stop “working” and start daydreaming. My author friend Holly Ringland said something like this the other day on her Instagram. That when we stand our ground, give ourselves the space, that’s when we can grow. That’s when we can really start the work. So I did. I stopped telling myself to write and told myself to dream. And that’s when the world started to color itself in. That’s when the callouses grew.9-21-16-writing-play-quinlan-monkey-barsGet back on those bars, kiddo. Go on. It’s what I tell my children. It’s what I’ll tell you. It’s what I’ve started to tell myself. After all, the the only way you’re going to learn to carry your own weight is to see what it can do in the first place. Have fun with it. Get a few blisters. For Pete’s sake, you guys, just go play.9-21-16-writing-play-pathYou never know how strong it will make you.



  1. Holly | 11th Oct 16

    Reading this made my heart swell.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *