Photo by Joe Hayter on

We had my family over the other day and I started talking to my dad about squirrels.  They have ton over by their house and he absolutely loves feeding them and he’s actually gotten quite close to some of them.  I mentioned that we’ve been here for six months and I really haven’t seen squirrels by us.  We have rabbits and chipmunks but not too many squirrels on this side of where we live.  It actually made me a little sad because we had a ton of squirrels near our old place and I’ve been missing their fuzzy little antics.  Plus I thought if my parents ever moved here he would really miss that.  Regardless, I notice their absence.

So I woke up on the first real day of my vacation and did some work in my office a bit later than I normally do.  It was still early, but there was actually daylight.  I had put in a workout in the morning and felt really good and as I sat down, I looked outside because the light was gorgeous.  I saw a fuzzy little tail running along the fence and another one up in the tree.  Sure enough, they were squirrels. My jaw dropped.  I mean, the timing of it was amazing and then to see two of them?! 

I immediately pulled out my medicine card book and there wasn’t anything about a squirrel so I looked it up and it says that squirrels are often a message for us to have more fun.  Specifically we have been taking life too seriously and forgotten that play is essential too.  Yes, they remind us to take care of practical matters as far as preparing for the future, but they want us to lighten what we have taken on unnecessarily and release the clutter.  The part that hit me the most was about how those thoughts are detrimental to our health.  My health in particular has been up and down over the last year and even though I’ve made strides, I have a nasty habit of letting it go to the wayside when other things need to be done.    

How often do we look at play as frivolous?  How often do I remind everyone here that play is one of the most important things we can do to tap into creativity as well as what we need?  And how often do I slip back into old habits and work, work, work?  I mean, I know I’m not alone in that, but I preach it and still forget it.  Regardless.  I’ve felt a different type of burnout throughout this year.  It’s not like the normal burnout where I need a day off or I need to distract myself from something.  This is the type of burnout where I am so physically exhausted that I struggle to move and I am so mentally overwhelmed by the smallest things that I paralyze myself…and then get more overwhelmed because I did nothing.  It’s all mental.  And it’s all the game of doing too much.  Taking on too much without enough focus.  Being pulled in too many directions and feeling uncertain any one of them is correct.

So as I seek joy, I know play is a priority.  I know that yes, practical matters need to be attended to, but not at the sacrifice of my sanity or peace now.  Getting to the breaking point in the present will do nothing for the future any more than doing nothing will.  It’s about balance and I sincerely believe it’s achievable.  The secret is to figure out what balance is for you (me).  It won’t look the same for everyone and it won’t feel the same for everyone.  We simply need to be who we are.  For me, self-care is first on the list.  Right now I have to make sure I am cared for before dealing with anyone else (putting the oxygen mask on myself first) and part of that will be play, or at a minimum, what feels good to me in the moment.  I don’t need a reason for it other than to keep myself sane and healthy.

I am grateful for these fuzzy little creatures in my life.  I’ve run around like a scared rabbit long enough.  There is joy in life.  It’s time to dive into that joy and really embrace it as part of who I am.  The truth is I always thought I needed to be taken seriously by doing serious things.  I mean, I don’t look like your typical professional.  I thought play would damage my reputation since I had been called a bimbo from the time I was a teenager.  Keep in mind I graduated top of my class with highest honors but that didn’t matter as I laughed too loud.  Now I truly don’t give a damn.  I want to embrace life and love and damn it, it is serious enough without making it more complicated.  I WANT to play and have fun.  And clearly the universe wants that as well.  So I’m going for it 😊    

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