My husband and I just took my 3 year old daughter Siena to the fair. I had been feeling a little down before we left. You know how you have those days from time to time where you lose your mojo and get in a funk? Standing in lines with screaming kids and enduring the summer heat didn't sound like my fantasy (curling up with a good book frankly sounded more my style), but I have to think about someone other than me these days, so for Siena's sake, we went to the fair.
The Lights of the Midway Await You
As we stood in the long line outside, peering through the gate at the fire-engine red, lemon yellow, and bright blue amusement part rides, I felt my funk start to dissipate as I watched Siena's excited face, beaming. Then I saw them, off in the distance- the rollercoasters- and my heart skipped a beat. Lost in my funk, I had forgotten about the rollercoasters. Once we sludged through the line and earned our entrance to the midway, Siena flung her arms out to the side and went running off to the spinny cars, yelling "I want the Pink one, Mommy! I want to Own Pink!" (I swear, I'm not brainwashing the kid). Dutiful mother that I aspire to be, I spent the first half hour watching Siena spin in circles on the kiddy rides. But the rollercoasters in the distance sang their siren song, and I felt my heart yearning, as my inner child called out.
My sweet husband Matt knew I'd been in a bit of funk, doubting myself and second guessing the risky direction I've chosen for our life. He also knows how much I love rollercoasters. For my 35th birthday a few years back, he surprised me by taking me to Six Flags during the off-season so I could ride rollercoasters all day long without waiting in line. By the twenty-somethingth rollercoaster, he felt queasy and opted to stand on the sidelines while I dipped, spun, and tipped upside down. Since having a child, I haven’t been able to do the same.
Follow Your Bliss
But there we were, at the fair, and the Ring of Fire was calling my name. Sweet Matt saw me oogling the rollercoaster and urged me to go while he watched Siena. I felt torn- play dutiful Mama, waving and clapping and egging on my daughter. Or follow my bliss and high tail it to the rollercoaster. So what did I do? You guessed it. I opted for getting my mojo back.
There I was, waiting in line with a crowd of kids at least twenty years my junior, and finally, it was my turn. I felt that familiar butterfly feeling in my tummy as I strapped myself in right across from this pre-teen girl with a giant grin on her face. Then whoosh! We were off, and I was laughing hysterically, as was the young girl across from me. You know that goofy laughter that just bubbles up from inside of you and won’t be contained, not even in church?
Let Go Of the Handle
I could see Siena down below, cheering me on, yelling “Go Mommy!” As we spun upside down, I found myself clinging to the safety bar locked over my body, holding my breath. Then after a few spins with gravity, I realized I was doing the very thing I vow not to do- I was clinging to the proverbial handle.
Just like that, I let go, throwing my hands up in the air, letting the wind carry me. I could feel the tension release within me, as my body filled with light and life and the funk that had overtaken me washed away. I could see my daughter laughing and grinning, reminding me that it's okay to folllowing my own bliss, even as a mother.
Let The Funk Wash Away
I thought back over my week of helping moderate a heavy but invaluable conversation about the difference between depression and losing your mojo. I reflected on the Pretty Pink Pussy Preoccupation and how much we need to humanize each other, rather than limit each other or put each other in boxes. I thought about the clients I saw in my private practice and how we all struggle from time to time, riding the rollercoaster of life, through the ups, the downs, and the topsy turvys. During those rocky times, when we find ourselves in a funk, we can seek unity and love in the collective Oneness, or we can stay isolated, riding the rollercoaster alone- in fear and loneliness. These thoughts all flashed through my head like a movie screen, as I spun around and around, feeling my funk fall away like pennies from my upside down pockets. As I surrendered to the experience- to life- I felt my whole body fill with the bright white light of JOY.
When the ride ended, I felt light as a feather (a little dizzy, maybe, but in a good way). I skipped off the rollercoaster, hugged my family, and danced off to the next rollercoaster. Now, as I reflect, I realize there are many things to be learned from riding rollercoasters. Like all things in life, the life lessons go much deeper than the surface of the experience.
Life Lessons I Learned From A Day of Riding Rollercoasters
1. In a funk? Get up and get outside of yourself. There's a whole wide world waiting for you to explore, and somewhere along the way, you just might find your joy.
2. Is fear keeping you from trying something potentially thrilling? Try pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. It’s good for the mojo.
3. It’s not all about the kids. Mommys and Daddys are allowed to have fun too. Following the whims of your inner child models joy and light-hearted fun for your child. Isn’t that as important as snapping photos while they’re on the carousel?
4. Age is a state of mind. Just because you grow up doesn’t mean you can’t reclaim the joys of being sixteen at the local fair.
5. While smooth sailing may seem appealing to those of us in crisis, riding the waves (or the rollercoasters) keeps life interesting.
6. Life really is more fun when you let go of the handle and surrender to the process.
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