Monday, September 01, 2008

Exercise of the Week: Rediscovering Delight

Let's face it: Most of us take ourselves waaaay too seriously. (Will your world really fall apart if you don't accomplish everything on your "to-do" list?) Plus, when you're not enjoying your life, chances are that you're harming your health and adversely affecting, in ways little and large, everyone around you.

To help lighten up, here's another exercise from Julia Cameron. As with most of her "assignments," it's best to do this one fast and furiously to allow submerged thoughts and memories to bubble to the surface.

  1. Remember yourself at eight.
  2. What did you do at that age that you enjoyed? What were your favorite things?
  3. Now, write a letter from you at that age to you at your current age. What would you tell yourself?
I did this exercise in 2001 and scribbled the following:
Dear 47-year old Prill,

Enjoy yourself more, sweetie. Get a toy box and throw things in it. Read a fairy book. Sing under a bridge. Win a race. Ride a bike. Eat a raspberry sherbet cone. Rent a funky house with a porch and a hillside. Pretend you're a milkman. Notice the walking stick on the sidewalk and be delighted by it. Dress up in a crazy costume. Jump on the bed once in a while. Drink lemonade through a curly straw. Celebrate your birthday with a pink cake. Play, dream, then play some more.

8-year old Prill
While I haven't pretended to be a milkman yet (and probably never will), I have taken much of this advice. I sang under a bridge and signed up for singing lessons, started spending summers at a house with a porch on a hillside overlooking a river, began being more observant on my walks, dressed up more than once in a crazy costume, and even jumped on my bed.

Note: The above photo was taken when I was six, not eight.


  1. A friend just sent me the link to you and this blog, Prill, and I think the work you're doing is amazing, not to mention inspiring.

    Another good friend of mine is 46, stuck in a nursing job that runs her ragged. She wants to start over, but she thinks she's too old. I'll have to clue her in about you and the other success stories on your site.

  2. You made my day, Terry! I was just biking at the beach this morning (I live a mile from Long Island Sound), wondering if I should keep blogging, if my stories, etc. were helping anyone. The blog gets a respectable amount of traffic but very few comments, so it's hard to know.

    By the way, I just linked from your comment to your website, and then to your blog. Love what you're doing, too, especially today's entry on taking time to be by yourself.

  3. Prill, I wrote a chapter in This Is the Place based on an experience I had when I was eight. It was a wonderful experience just writing it. The occasion was the first time I realized that I was considered "different" by the community I was raised in, by my own family! This Is the Place is not a memoir but much in it is based on my own life. Though This Is the Place was published in 2001 it is still available. Thank you for reminding me of how much fun writing can be. Some days I need that!
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

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  5. Eight years old, at least for a lot of people, seems to be a pivotal, coming-of-age, age. It certainly was for me. It was 1962 and I distinctly remember my parents discussing the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    I was also totally into geography. I had a blackboard hanging in my bedroom and I loved drawing maps on it. One day I had an epiphany: In a flash of what I thought at the time was profound insight and now see as just common sense, I realized that the boundaries we draw to separate ourselves from one another are artificial. Yes, there might be a river or mountain range that provides a natural divider between countries and/or cultures; but most of our us/them mentality is of our own design and to our own detriment.

  6. If I fell apart if I didn't get everything on my to-do list done, I'd be in shreds. I FORCE myself (yes A type) to make a salad and sit under an umbrella to eat it. And, yes, I sometimes take the newspaper with me, but that doesn't count. (-:

  7. I'm with you, Carolyn. Another thing I do is to limit my lists to no more than 5 items. (I have a separate list for long-term projects.) And, yes, I'm a Type A as well--in case you haven't noticed.

  8. I love this post, Prill! I credit returning to tennis as turning my life around. I had reached a point (about 2000)that my life was all about duty.

    I loved playing tennis in high school and college. And yes, I loved playing tennis as an eight year old!


  9. That's so cool, Allyn. It reminds me of a story I read the other day while flipping through a magazine at the dentist's office. A woman asked a childhood friend to tell her what the friend remembered about her as a young girl. The friend said, “You used to draw these incredible pictures.” The woman had forgotten how much she loved to sketch. She went right out and bought a pad and some conte crayons, and has been drawing ever since.