By: Martianne Stanger
Snow has fallen. The ground is covered. My children delight. So, task lists and school lessons pause, and out we all go to our neighbor’s yard to soar down a hill under a bright, crisp winter sky.
By the time we all tumbled back into our front door – cheeks flushed with joy – I realized that although I had thought tasks and lessons had stopped for the day when we had bundled up to head outside, they really had not.
In fact, quite a few tasks had been accomplished in the time we were outside, even if they were not the ones that the kids and I had brainstormed over breakfast.
Intentional together time? Check!
Aerobic laugher? Check!
Nature noticing? Check!
Sustained exercise? Check!
Indeed, one of the first things my youngest child did when we came back inside from sledding was to climb up on a chair, take out the task list we had put together over breakfast and tell me he was writing “play,” because we had forgotten to write it on the list.
And, that was Mom’s first big lesson for the day:
- Remember to play!
Isn’t it true that we all need moments of play every single day? For a minute. An hour. An entire afternoon. A full day. Taking time to play is a restorative gift. We unwrap this gift often as children, but are too often busy as adults.
I could offer many logical reasons, but none that seem valid to me at this moment. Right now, as I reflect on our time sledding and on my youngest child’s immediate response to it, I recognize a truth: Play is not just the work of childhood. It is what works to keep even adults happy and healthy. We should all play every. single. day.
We might all do well to think about a few other lessons I learned while out sledding with my children, too. At least I know I would. Lessons like:
- Enjoy the ride!
Even when things are a little off balance or you’re getting a little off course, the ride is fabulous! Embrace it. Enjoy it. Direct it when you can. Go with it when you cannot. It’s all good!
- Just roll (regroup and redirect!)
Be smart, though. If things get too hairy, or if you feel too uncertain, just roll. There’s nothing wrong with purposely pausing. In fact, sometimes, doing so is not only a wise choice, but also a wonderful one. Roll, regroup and redirect and soon enough you’ll be back on a beautiful course.
- Share the ride.
While there is nothing wrong with going at things alone, sometimes sharing the ride makes it all that much better. As my little girl noted, “you get to go farther” and “it’s fun to be together.” So, hold onto those close to you and enjoy life as it unfolds.
- Share the work.
Also remember that many hands make light work. Sharing work is just as important as sharing rides. As all my children like to chant, “What’s going to work? Team work! What’s going to work? TEAM WORK!” If you’re facing something big, teamwork will get it done.
- Check in with love.
As you go about life, when you notice someone is down, don’t just walk away. Stop. Check in. Show them you care.
“I just checked on him because I love him,” said my daughter when looking at a picture I had snapped of her and her brother during our time on the sledding hill. And, that’s what life comes down to in the end, doesn’t it? Loving one another.
Just imagine if every day at regular intervals we each consciously checked in with one another with the sole purpose of demonstrating love. Wow! What a world it would be!
- Look up!
And how about if we just looked up?
When my son crashed at the end of one sled run, he rolled over and just laid there. When I saw him prone and still, I was worried and went to check on him.
I didn’t have to be worried though. He wasn’t hurt. In fact, a peaceful, playful smile tickled his ruddy cheeks and, captured by it, I fell down in the snow next to him, held him in my arms and, together with him, looked up.
As we lay in our snowy but warm embrace, we noticed snow and ice that sparkled on the limbs above our heads as “branches like diamonds” (according to my boy) that hung about the welcoming sky.
I went to capture those gems on film, when my ever-observant son went on to say, “They probably won’t look as beautiful in the picture, Mom.”
He was right. They don’t. But they look just as gorgeous as ever in my memory and the snapshot reminds me of a lesson I keep having to re-learn in life: Look up! It’s truly blessed and beautiful when you do.
So, go on, stop reading this post now. Go play. Ride. Roll. Share. Love. Look up. The rest of today awaits you with abundant blessings! True beauty awaits us all…