There was a time, eons ago, when my long, elegant tail would capture the rays of the ancient sun, dispersing fragments of enchanted light to depths of deepest blue. With a twist of my torso and a flick of my scaled fins, I would plunge to those depths, chasing the elusive light until it disappeared. Only to see it again when I rolled on my back, swimming, watching the surface of the water transformed into a tapestry of dappled light, mesmerized by the creation…broken by half a dozen cousins cannonballing into my watery world.
With my fins and tail vanishing like fog in the summer sun, I transformed as I surfaced to the noise of children playing, excited aunts, and barking dogs; the occasional motorboat zipping by causing cheers and exuberant waves from the cannonballing cousins. The enticing smell of burgers cooked over charcoal beckoned my 7-year-old belly to the dock’s edge, where I would haul my human appendages out of the water. Hastily wrapped in a colorful beach towel, I was handed a paper plate supported by a rickety wicker plate holder piled with summer salads, chips and an overcooked burger; a flimsy cup of unnaturally colored sugar drink given to wash down my mid-day feeding.
Although the reality of lunch was genuine, I still was a mermaid, surfaced to attend the daily rituals of human existence. However, as soon as the mandatory hour of waiting for my food to settle was over, I would swan dive, okay, I’d cannonball my way back to the deep blue.
Fast-forward to middle school, when angry parents, peer pressure and daily stressors of school and other activities crowded into my watery world; I left my scaled tail and fins in the now murky depths. That age-old command, ‘Grow up!’ rattled me out of the tree forts, dusty fairy gardens and mermaid habitats. And although I was on swim team, I was not a champion swimmer, maybe the shadows of my mermaid tail distracted me from true greatness in the pool. Probably not.
When we grow up, grow older we tend to lose that creative quality that allows us to become the mermaid, pirate, elf, fairy, or whatever childhood fantasy we indulged. The ‘grown up’ world doesn’t make the room or time for blanket forts and big bowls of sugary cereal, or cardboard boxes turned into spaceships, or dragon’s lairs deep inside a mountain of pillows thrown into a living room corner. When we do have the time to stop and restore the mermaid we tend to turn on the television, grab our phones and slowly seep into a trance-like state of un-creativity.
5 Ways to Restore the Mermaid:
- Disconnect: Take time to pull away from the constant connectivity of the 21st Century. UNPLUG! Yes, get far away from phone, computer, tv! Enjoy solitude, enjoy a sunrise by yourself (or sunset if you are not a morning person), spend time in the sun (many of us have a vitamin d deficiency…), sit and enjoy the sound of the rain. Utilize your 5 senses to enjoy your surroundings.
- Create: Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, do something creative every day. Try a new recipe, play with watercolors, get a coloring book, play with modeling clay or make your own, learn to sew/knit/crochet, or listen to a new genre of music and dance…
- Read: Find an author or genre of literature you like and consume a book as if it were your favorite meal. I love reading! I have noticed with the advent of smartphones, I do read less…however, I am making a point to read more often.
- Journal: Sometimes journaling can be an act of purging; it can also be a creative outlet or a way to keep track of daily events. Whatever journaling may look like to you, do it. Try the 6-word story. Here is one of mine…”Time left her in desolate melancholy.” Keep lists of favorite foods, books, places to visit, ways to disconnect.
- Rest: Busyness, full agendas, appointments/timers/alarms… much like Disconnect, rest is elusive in the 21st Century, but so important. Is it people-pleasing that makes us fill up our days? Being an introvert I tend to need the rest after spending large amounts of time with crowds of people. As a cosmetologist by trade, I am around people ALL DAY LONG, therefore it is important for me to take a day to myself, sometimes more if possible. Give your mind and body a break from the 24/7 world we live in.