Freedom – 2017Jennifer
I lived up the block from a park when I was a child. It was Brooklyn and the park consisted of a handball court, lots of concrete and some swings. That’s all I needed. I could swing for days. It was one of my favorite things to do. I would try to go as high as I could and I would almost feel like I was flying. It was a freedom my little 8-year-old self never experienced before. I loved it.
I remember a time, I was around 19, and my daily wardrobe consisted of combat boots and skirts or dresses. I was living on my own for the first time in NYC, waiting tables, putting myself through acting school. I felt so in charge of my life for the first time. The city was a place of freedom to me. There, people were allowed to just be as weird as they wanted to be and it inspired me so. Again it was that freedom without judgment that I hadn’t known before that I loved.
I would spend hours in vintage shops and flea markets to find dresses and skirts that were dirt cheap to wear with my Doc Martins. There was something about these sweet dresses paired with my dirty boots that made me feel outside as I did inside; just a bit off. Imperfect, but in a good way. I walked proudly in my bold outfits and thought I knew about the world.
Oh youth…what did I know?
Years went by and swing rides and those silly outfits were long gone. They were exchanged for work and appropriate attire. I was now an adult. I had become a highly responsible hard-working person who put “having fun”, sadly, last. Just wasn’t enough time. Life circled around work and then some more work. No time for hobbies such as collecting vintage dresses and less time to take a moment to just swing on a swing.
In the last month of an already scary, sad, hectic and crazy 2015, I was waiting for my results for what was then known as calcifications on my breast and a biopsy to see if it was cancer. Talk about no fun. I was wracked with fear and anxiety. I had a long 5 days to wait to get my results. Pure torture.
For some reason, one day I felt the need to start cleaning out my closet while getting dressed. It was almost like I was searching for some space in my brain in between all the worry, and getting rid of things would somehow help achieve this I felt. I stumbled upon an old pair of motorcycle boots and eyed a lace skirt that I had never worn. I didn’t even know why I purchased it as it seemed too silly for me, as it sat in a pile to be donated to the Red Cross. I grabbed them and threw them into a small bag I packed for a much needed trip out to the country.
While out in the country my brain continues on with worry and the stress and outweighed the beautiful peaceful surroundings. I needed air. I went to put some proper clothes on to take a walk as I had been in pj’s the whole day and I found the boots and skirt I had shoved in my bag for some reason.
I put them on in hopes of ANY diversion from the worry. It felt fun immediately. It reminded me of those carefree days stomping along the NYC streets with such hope and lust for life.
I started to walk. Even my walk became different. The frills and the bounce of the skirt mixed with the heavy boot made me feel like I was skipping almost and that made me smile. I wound up walking right past a park I walked past a thousand times and had never been in. I ventured in and found sitting alone there in the brisk winter air…swings. Happily sitting there waiting for someone to come and simply glide through the air for a moment of fun.
Me, my boots and my skirt got on the swing and started to move. With each pump of my legs through the air, I went higher and higher almost believing I would go completely around the top. My skirt took on the wind and swept it up like Marilyn Monroe as my boots kicked through the air to make room for me in the sky.
Freedom. Freedom from worry. Freedom from my mind. Freedom from the pending diagnosis. Freedom from the pressures in the world that I had created. Yes there were heavy situations in my life that needed to be dealt with but it was all my decision on how I reacted to them. I realized what little fun I allowed into my life and how just those brief silly moments of swinging in my “inappropriate” outfit made me slow down take a deep breath and simply smile.
Days later, I did find out it was cancer, which was dealt with and time moved on just as it does. I realized I could move on either smiling and having fun or stressed out and overworked. It was my choice.
As 2017 starts and time again moves on, we have choices. We have choices to go head first and take on life’s pressures with a smile or take on life’s pressure as burdens and be deprecated by them.
This past year and years past that have taught me many lessons. Most importantly though is to leave some room for fun. Leave some room for silly. At this time of restrictions and resolutions, I say add another. Be kind to yourself and ENJOY. Put on those combat boots and dresses and go for a swing or whatever it was that your younger MUCH wiser self knew. That young girl who bounced around NYC and liked her swings actually knew something.
Your freedom is up to you!
HAPPY NEW YEAR,