When I was 7 or 8 years old… I had a “thinking tree” (as I called it) just down the alley that ran beside my house. It had a thick branch just low enough that I could pull myself up to sit on it, and leaves that sagged down almost to ground level to create a natural little tent inside which no one could see me.
I loved that tree. It was my “space” where I went simply because I enjoyed alone time… and it also served as a “safe zone” I could retreat to when I felt emotionally overloaded or sad.
Lately I’ve been noticing that my daughter has a WHOLE LOT of me coming out in her personality… specifically in the way that she also finds ways to make time to be by herself. Whether it’s taking her stuffed animals into her cardboard “house” (made of the shipping remnants of our patio furniture we got this summer), and closing the door for a half hour while she plays make-believe with them…. Or how she’ll be playing with a group of neighborhood friends and then find a way to make space for herself to dance or to sing “Frozen” songs away from the crowd.
And watching her little “keep to herself” personality has brought me back to the peacefulness that I used to feel doing the same thing. While I LOVED my time with my friends and spent the majority of my time with them… I equally loved those quiet times just hanging out by myself. Whether it was in my room journaling/writing poems… or just hanging out on that low-hanging branch.
But somewhere along the way… that little girl stopped going to that thinking tree. She stopped giving herself a time and a space to retreat to when her emotions were on overload, or just to be alone with her thoughts. And today… if I DO decide to spend that time alone… it’s uncomfortable, can be filled with guilt that I should be doing something “productive” or with my family… and simply just not as peaceful as I remembered it being on that branch.
So WHY did that little girl lose that awesome recognition that “me” time is so important…so healthy … and so necessary to stay level-headed in an otherwise uneven world?