It was my high school German teacher, Herr Wooden, who, upon my graduating, brought to my attention that I take life too seriously. His parting words to me were, “Mary Jane, I hope you ease-up on life or your roommates at Western are in for a rough ride with you.” Whoa…I thought I was lighthearted and quite frankly that Herr Wooden had a slight crush on me. After all he signed my yearbook, “Love, Michael.” These two incidents are pretty much what I remember about him, and yet, his comment that insinuated that I needed to ease-up caught me more off guard. It wasn’t until years later that I realized his prophetic words rang true in my heart.
I made it through those college days with various roommates; ones I disliked and their feelings were mutual. It wasn’t until alcohol came onto the scene that my roommates stuck around. Somehow the alcohol tamped me down to become more palatable for those living with me. My eating disorder was out of control but alcohol proved to enhance my addiction. My heart had already numbed itself to the goodness my 18 year-old self had become.
Eventually I married John who would periodically say to me, “Lighten-up.” He was frustrated with my taking his comments and every day life so seriously. I didn’t know what it meant to be playful and joke with him. For me his words to “lighten up” simply crawled all over me. My resolve was to become tighter. And I did! This played out in power struggles about pretty much everything. Food, money, discipline for the children, my dad, the dog…you name it. What happened to me? Wasn’t I lighthearted at some point in my life before I graduated high school?
Sadly, I probably was, but not for too long. Because of the unpredictable environment of my home my carefree and smart self became cautious and evolved into a fearful young girl who became afraid of my sexuality, my body and my security at home.
My carefree heart lost its desire to play under the weight of my fear and I turned to addictions that numbed my fear.
My sense of self began to merge with the needs of others hoping my needs would be reciprocated in return. It did not happen. My carefree heart of desire simply became buried under the burdens of others.
It has taken years of discovery to recover the tenderness of my heart and to reclaim the intuitive gut that I was born with. It has required me to feel the anger that simmered under the burdens of others and to get curious about my heart and to stand up for myself. In standing up my heart is continuing to release the tightness that laid claim to the tenderness within. This tenderness coupled with kindness has allowed redemption to come and I am recovering the carefree side of myself where anger no longer fuels the tightness but releases the energy to inspire change. I am becoming and tasting my best self and I like her. I’m discovering my true self doesn’t take life quite so seriously any longer.
John notices it as well as we are more playful with one another. I love the expression that he says to me now when he sees me taking on life too seriously. It is, “Don’t let this slip too deep into your soul.” It is in those words that I know I can rest and reclaim the goodness of my gut and in most cases have a playful laugh with him.
Ahhh…the joys of discovery even after 47 years of marriage. It is never over. It is not too late to discover play again. What are you discovering for yourself? Be assured that something amazing will be found there. Try it and see!
Mary Jane Hamilton loves her life living on Lake Michigan with her husband of 47+ years. It is her family that brings her the greatest joy especially her 6 grandchildren. MJ readily admits that she adores her dachshunds and rests in the comfort they provide. She smiles at life and “rolls with the punches” that are thrown her way. MJ loves Jesus and beauty, MJ loves wind, waves and thunder, MJ loves fashion and good wine, MJ loves…
I love YOU, MJ! Thank you so much for your words which came at a time when I needed them shot right to my soul. Blessings, Beautiful One!
So glad my word resonated in your soul today. Thank you for blessing me with your words 💗MJ
“In standing up my heart is continuing to release the tightness that laid claim to the tenderness within…I am becoming and tasting my best self and I like her.” This. This is beautiful! I love her and the beauty she brings to this world. Thank you dear friend for the example you provide with you words, your heart, your life. Love to you, Christine
Thank you, Christine for your kind and generous words! You hold a special place in my heart for the encouragement you have blessed me with over the years. Carry on, my friend as you lavish love onto others 💗MJ
Mary Jane thank you for this view into your life…your young beginning and the difficult middle and the glorious present! Hooray for you. Hooray for John. I loved lots of sentences, but this one was highlighted the most: “My sense of self began to merge with the needs of others hoping my needs would be reciprocated in return. It did not happen. My carefree heart of desire simply became buried under the burdens of others.” I am grateful your one, bold, beautiful heart is re-claiming and discovering so much more these days. “Play on” with your dear ones. Congratulations with #47!!!! Love from my home to yours…
Thank you, Becky! I’m so happy to have life in the present. Such goodness is found there for John and I. I appreciate the kindness of your words. My heart is definitely holding life differently after 47 years. Blessings to you and your family as this New Year marches on💗MJ
Loving the playfull side as well as the serious side Mary. Looking to many more years of playing and enjoying life together.
I’m looking forward to those playful years as well 💗MJ
Thank you for this, as it reminds me of a delightful memory from a Dan Allender seminar on trauma I attended several years ago. During the Q&A, I stood up and asked what I am sure was a very serious question that reflected my very serious life view. As he is want to do, Dan gave me a studied gaze and then responded with his own question: When was the last time you skipped?
I can still remember the heat that rose up in my body in response to that question. Skip? Who has time to skip? This is serious business, dammit! In my heart I said something loving like Fuck you, Dan. But on the outside I stood there, caught, exposed, yet strangely it wasn’t a snare of shame, rather an invitation to, dare I say, freedom.
What I do know is this: His question never left me. I still battle taking way too many things way too seriously, but sometimes, on purpose, I skip.
I’m so glad you gave this wonderful memory from Dan! It is a beautiful reminder for the goodness of childhood and play. Thank you for sharing this with me💗MJ
I loved this entry MJ! Love where you wove together early stories and the present day. Ah, the intuitive gut-so vivid. I loved John’s words too about not letting it slip too deep into your soul. Great question! Oh, and this picture is amazing too 🙂
Thank you, Bethany! Yep, it has taken me a long time to reclaim my gut. John and I are enjoying the playfulness at this time of our life…it is our time. Your kind words were a blessing to my heart💗MJ
I love the phrase “the tenderness under the tightness”. I wonder how this arena will continue to open to me in the years to come?
Well, my friend, I wonder too! And I believe that you will have your a discovery of your own…the seed has been planted! Let’s anticipate the goodness to come💗MJ
” I am recovering the carefree side of myself where anger no longer fuels the tightness but releases the energy to inspire change.” I love this line and it resonates with my own journey. Thank you for articulating it so clearly.
Thank you, Madeline! I’m glad I could inspire you. I hope you look forward to this change within yourself. It will be wonderful to see how it all unfolds for you💗MJ
“Don’t let this slip too deep into your soul.” Wow, such incredible words that show how well he knows and loves you…while still calling out those young, carefree & playful parts of your heart. What a gift.
Playful, yes! I’m finding myself referencing those words frequently. I appreciate the goodness of your words as one who know both my carefree and serious side💗MJ
Wow! Thank you for this! Your lines “My sense of self began to merge with the needs of others hoping my needs would be reciprocated in return. It did not happen. My carefree heart of desire simply became buried under the burdens of others.” hit me right in the heart- so beautifully. I am going to have to sit with this for a while. Thank you so much for sharing!
You are so welcome, Sarah! I’m trusting your heart will breathe easier as you sit in the reality of what it means to set your own heart free with desire. What a lovely thought for you and for me! Blessings💗MJ
Mary Jane, thank you for sharing your memories, thoughts and your testimony here in your wonderful “Reclaiming Play”.
I have had the privilege to read some of your writing before, and so pleased to read your wise words once again.
As your friend and neighbor of several years now at “Our Wonderful Lake”, I have taken your invitation seriously to visit your beloved ‘Red Tent Living’ page!
Thank you again for sharing this place with me!! As a woman of God, I find peace and acceptance here.
Since returning to Colorado after wonderful holidays back in our home state of MI., I have struggled with a long time trusted friend here. She has fallen on a hard time in her life and is trying to take me down with her sense of failure, as she enjoys playing the “victim”. I have been a good friend to her for such a long time I thought….When she needed a shoulder to lean on I was there for her. I have given her my love, my time, my encouragement, my talents, and most of all my most sincerest friendship that I could offer her. Unfortunately I am seeing a different side of her as her life choices have started to stare back at her. She is not liking herself too much right now, and sadly she is trying her hardest to put her burdens on me.
She is a very capable woman, but for years has blamed other members of her family, her ex, her neighbors, and so on for her problems. I have hardly ever heard her say that she has the power to make better changes for herself.
My heart has yearned to feel light, happy, and carefree again Mary Jane!!!
Your words have certainly given me the hope to know that I am not responsible for my friends unhappiness in life, and I no longer will give her the satisfaction of putting out my “Light” anymore. Yes, I have found the power to stand up for myself!!
I will love and pray for her, I am no longer a prisoner, and…I choose to “recover the tenderness in my heart”.
With a Heart Full,
<3 Sarah E.