Friday, November 6, 2009

The Joy Diet - Play

The adventure with The Joy Diet by Martha Beck continues. I loved this chapter on play! It really caught me by surprise, as some of the other sections have. But when I read this one it felt like an aha moment!

Ever since I was a teenager I've occasionally framed my life in the most dramatic scenarios I could think of. I remember throwing up to my mother in my mind's eye - "I don't care if my room is neat! Is it important to have on my tombstone 'Here lies Becky. She always had a neat room? or She could wear a size 8' " Whatever the current demands were that I wasn't meeting.

As I've grown older the line that I often find useful to remind myself what's important is from Psalm 90: "Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom."

My early heroes were people who were selfless, smart, inquisitive, compassionate, dedicated. And they went up a few notches if they had a good sense of humor.

While my earlier dreams of going off to save the world never materialized, my "jobs" and my career actually did line up quite well. I ended up as a physical therapist for 40 years. Some aspects of that can be aggravating, frustrating just like any other job. But for the most part I loved working with people in a way that I hope did make a difference for them. We were frequently able to make play out of our visits together. Since I spent a lot of that time in home care, we could use our sessions to tailor their efforts to what was most important to them.

In my retirement I'm often reflecting on what I'm called to do. Time with our grandchildren, being able to support our kids' busy lives by helping with transportation or errands, having time to visit aging family members, being able to enjoy friends - these are clearly part of my career. I feel so lucky to be able to do these things.

Painting, using my painting to promote a vision that I embrace, has come as such a surprise to me at this point in my life! It brings me so much joy, opens so many new doors.

Rowing, walking, yoga, exercise - are small steps to my larger visions. By keeping myself in good shape I'll have the ability to continue doing what I love as long as possible.

Martha talks about the games we play - and how we need to evaluate them in terms of our real career. If they don't serve that, then we need to find a different game. I didn't have those words or concepts to use at the time but when I made a job change that surprised some of my family and flew in the face of societal norms I realize that that's what I was doing - walking away from a game that didn't serve my real purpose. Those events in our lives can be really scarey, but deep down we know they're right.

I feel like I have reached the stage where it IS more like water flowing than swimming against a current. There are surely going to be difficult times. But I like having this concept of career and play to keep myself honest - to keep checking to make sure that I'm serving that divine spark that I've been given. It keeps going back to identifying that desire.

I've posted an image of one of my standing stones that was inspired by Catherine DeVinck's poem The Womanly Song of God.
To see how others in the Jamie Ridler's book club responded to this chapter check out her blog at:



  1. What a beautiful stone!
    And what a nice post! You seem to be a very lucky soul, one can feel this in every line!
    Enjoy the rest of the journey, til next week, LW

  2. As I read your post it felt very calm and peaceful and the words just seemed to flow. It is wonderful that you have such a sense of peace that you are able to share with others.

  3. Thanks much for the visit for AEDM, Becky... didn't know if you would see my reply on comment there, so wanted to pop over and visit you here. Just to say YES go for sketching that seashell again -- and that you know when you might have need for a pincushion, too, so maybe it's all good that a pincushion looking piece came first :)

    Also wanted to thank you for your Play post today. Needed that reminder to look at all things as part of the path/career -- time with kids and grands, time walking or yoga'ing... yeah... just thanks!


  4. Sounds like your 'career' is everything you want it to be. It was lovely to read your post - I imagine you flowing comfortably along. Always good to hear that someone else did the 'scary changing job thing' and survived!

  5. Your post is calm and comforting. Thanks. Loved the painted stone.

  6. Beautiful painted stone.

    Sounds like you have instinctively been "playing" all of your life. It's inspirational.

    Thank you for a lovely post.

  7. Yes, it does seem to keep coming back to identifying our desire. Knowing our desire and truth seems to be the foundation for the rest of the ingredients, and bit by bit it seems like it's getting easier and easier. Thanks for sharing your beautiful experience.

  8. Thanks for sharing your journey and thoughts on play this week,your painted stone is lovely.

  9. You are a beautiful writer...and it causes me to take the time to reflect. Thanks for that.