On the rare, and somewhat monumental, occasions that I am, I almost don’t know what to do with myself. Preprogrammed like a channel of reruns, I tend to replay the elements of my typical day, not easily slipping into the opportunity of “me” time with the simple grace I’d like to be capable of.
Nevertheless, I try.
As if reintroducing myself to a distant acquaintance, I realize that I need to come back to a place of recognition. Eventually knowing that if I do the right things with my spare time, they’ll lead me to a sense of, “There you are old friend; I’ve missed you.” In his famous poem “To a Stranger,” (which we no doubt become to ourselves at times) Walt Whitman once said, “I am to see to it that I do not lose you.” And while he may not have been speaking of himself, why is the losing of “you” any less significant than the relationship of someone else?
While it’s rare for me to be truly alone, I can’t deny that when I have these pockets of time all to myself I enjoy it. The truth is — I like my company — when I’m being the real me, that is. If I’m being honest, sometimes the real me is hard to find. She’s a little bit of a lost girl, so caught up in the responsibilities of adult life that I have a hard time coaxing her to come out from behind the to-do list and play.
It is time to free ourselves of “I shouldn’t” and “I don’t have time for” and let the magic of “me” time step in. After crossing a few items off the list, you’ll come to a looking glass moment of wonder. When you see how much fun this lost-girl version of yourself really is, you’ll have a better chance of not “misplacing” her again.
Paint like you’re in kindergarten. Go to your local art store and buy a new pack of watercolor paints. Don’t sketch first, just dip the wet brush into the saturated pigment and let the colors run. See what you see. Let your elementary masterpiece be undefined and open to turning into whatever it was meant to be. Then, with admiration and pride, get a magnet and stick that beauty to your fridge.
Give your senses the royal treatment. Lavish yourself with deluxe versions of delight. Whip up a lavender bubble bath and soak deeply into a classic book. Make a stop at the local bakery and search for the most sugar-filled, frosted-bit of delicious and eat every crumb. Look up your favorite famous painting, the one that catches your soul, read all about it and imagine you’re being given a private tour at the Louvre or the Met.
Take a tour of your own house. While we live in our homes, we rarely appreciate them for the graceful museum of our history that they are. Take some time to go on an intentional tour of your house. Walk through each room slowly and admire the weathered beauty therein. Rest against the windowsill and imagine the memories that are trying to draw you back to them of that particular view. Think about who walked in your halls. Remember the laughter that rang out and echoed off the walls. Intentionally look at each photograph, each piece of furniture and every China dish. Let the rooms speak reminiscence to you, and appreciate what you call home.
Host a rock concert for one. Blast your favorite tunes for half an hour. Turn up the volume, turn down your inhibitions, and dance across your house like you’re the next million-dollar deal. Don’t forget your hairbrush microphone, and maybe a little shower steam and full-length mirrors for effect!
Get lost on purpose. Walk, bike, drive, or hike into the abyss that is not guided by an app on your phone. Create a trail where there wasn’t one. Make your mark, leave a bit of lace tied around a sapling just for hinting’s sake. Let the mystery of where you’ve been be yours and yours alone to keep.
Doodle your dream house. Get a sketchpad and devote every mark, scratch, and doodle to creating your “Someday” home. Even if you’re already living in it, make it even more yours! Tear scraps of images and bits of fabric and add them to your illustrations. Make lists for what you would include in every room and every inch of imaginary yard. Dust off the dreaming … no budget … no compromise – just you.
Revisit the children’s section of a bookstore. Forget your double-digit age: go to the best bookstore in town and plan on dedicating a piece of your day to, “Once upon a time” and “Happily ever after.” Get a chocolate milk or cocoa from the café, grab your favorite classics or peruse the shelves for the newest Caldecott winners, and immerse yourself into the wonderful world of children’s literature.
Give yourself a makeover. Get something entirely new for you. Pick that daring shade of eye shadow or the pouty pink gloss you’ve set your eyes on. Get a new blush brush and paint yourself a fabulous reflection.
Do everything backwards. Do what you want when you want to and intentionally be backwards about it. Wake up and eat dessert and then take a nap again. Get coffee in the middle of the day. Order breakfast for dinner (with extra butter and syrup). Stay up super late and have a movie marathon complete with pizza, popcorn, and M&M’s.
Create a collection. Make yourself a curio of curiosities … of tiny, appealing things that mean something only to you. Become a seeker of magically ordinary wonders. Pick up leaves pressed wet to the ground with rain. Find baby seashells that hold bubble-sized secrets of the ocean. Discover the smoothest pebbles, the most uniquely shaped flower petals or beautiful broken pieces of colored glass. Put them on display to remind you of the charm in things uncovered and unexpected.
Remember that all it takes is a few stolen moments to sprinkle magic back into our days and remind us that wonder and whimsy are worth our time. Welcome back, dear one. Stay found.
Elle Harris is a believer of impossible things. She is a lover of words, wonder, and the whimsical delights of everyday living. Caught in the creative place between reality and imagination is her favorite place to be. Please join Elle in pursuing life with intention, and grand conversation on her blog thisquotablelife.wordpress.com. Find Elle on Instagram and Twitter @ElleHarris82.