Prutsen is such a lovely word. It’s Dutch, and it was once used a lot by us. As in, “What have you been doing for the last two hours?” “Oh, just prutsen.”
A loose definition of prutsen is to putter or potter or tinker, or otherwise waste time by making unnecessary changes. It’s doing something of little significance that looks like work but really isn’t. It’s sort of pretend work that can help to successfully avoid real work. It’s entertainment and relaxation all rolled up in one.
Some of us can pruts for hours, rearranging things like the desk, the plants, spice rack, cutlery drawer, etc.; thereby putting off more useful tasks like paying bills, cleaning out the refrigerator or organizing year-end tax files.
I don’t know when, but somewhere along the line we lost the simple pleasure inherent in prutsen. And I think we should bring it back. Sometimes a mind just needs to graze…
A few weeks ago I wrote about the list of ingredients for joy and meaning that Dr. Brené Brown’s family came up with. They were surprised to discover that the way they were living their lives was contrary to the way they wanted to be living, so they made changes. They cut back the hours they were working, limited extracurricular activities, got more sleep, more play, and made more time to just hang out.
Jess and I started something similar. I say “started” because we are still a long way from our ideal, but we are definitely making progress. Here is a partial list.
This is a long-overdue thank you to North County Cancer Fitness (NCCF) for all their assistance last year.
In January 2016 I learned that a cyst on my kidney which we’d been monitoring since my initial breast cancer diagnosis, had suddenly gotten huge after 2-1/2 years of no change at all. There was a very distinct change in tone from my surgeon, now sure that it was cancer because of the rapid growth. Because it was so large, they would have to temporarily remove most of my organs to get it all, and supposedly it would be a very long recovery period because of this.
I had recently read a magazine article I can’t locate now about the usefulness of “pre-hab”, rather than waiting for re-hab. It totally convinced me that going into this surgery in the best possible shape I could possibly be, would pay off in a really big way. And I asked if NCCF could support my pre-hab. They were happy to do so, and handled all of the set up on my behalf!
NCCF provided additional personal training and stretching sessions...
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~George Eliot
Based on reactions to my earlier writings, it seems I’m not the only one here who has tried to be perfect. In some ways, “perfect” is not difficult to imitate. In fact, it’s usually easy to imagine the requirements of “perfect” in whatever particular niche your local self is in, and put that on for the world to see. Many of us started doing that about the same time we started elementary school.
“But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” ~ Anna Quindlen
Becoming yourself IS so much more difficult. There are no blueprints, plans, YouTubes or infographics...
“The enemy of creativity is fear. We are all born creative. It takes a little while to become afraid. A surprising insight: An enemy of fear is creativity. Acting in a creative way generates action. An action persuades the fear to lighten up.” --Seth Godin
I don't often share pieces that are still in process, especially when I don't have a strong sense of how they will end up. It's a little unnerving.
However, I started this blog with the intent to share my artwork and thoughts with you...even the half-baked ones. Because the doing of that forces me to grow further. It's not very comfortable, but then growth rarely is. When we're comfortable, it's easy to just continue doing whatever we've been doing. When the discomfort becomes intolerable, that's when we are moved to action, change, and growth.
I started this piece months ago -- it was a slow-go right from the start. I still don't know where or how it will end up. And because of that, it doesn't have a title yet. I only know it's somehow about energy and transformation.
The beginning stage was something of an adventure.
"Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time
to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from
the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel."
Are you taking care of yourself? When we get busy (and it
seems like we only get more so, not less), self-care practices
like meditating, exercising, getting enough sleep, connecting
with those we care about, and spending time on the activities
we love are the first things we jettison.
This post started with the working title, “Protecting the Asset”, because I read somewhere that when we start thinking of ourselves, our energy, our purpose and passion, as an asset needing protection to continue functioning at optimum levels, we start making decisions differently. It’s a bit like protecting one’s financial assets in that the principal must be conserved in order to keep generating income. It’s why the airlines instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first, and then help others. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” --Unknown
This is not an easy attitude to adopt -- we’ve grown up in a culture that treats the idea of self-care as if it’s selfish, over-indulgent, unproductive, unbecoming, and not something “good” people do. In fact, not only is self-care not taught, but NOT taking care of ourselves is somehow supposed to be a sign of virtue and modesty. It’s not, taking care of ourselves is a matter of survival.
I realize whole books have been written about self-care and my musings here can only scratch the surface, but it’s often on my mind as I look to integrate this into my life.
When I first answered a classified ad for the Foundation for Mind Research many years ago in New York, I had absolutely no idea who Dr. Jean Houston was, nor had I heard anything at all about her work in the world. So, suddenly I became an assistant to one of the leading pioneers of the human potentials movement, and learned so much more than I had ever imagined.
Jean Houston is a scholar, philosopher, and researcher in the field of human capacities. She’s also known as a provocateur of human potentials - and a keen observer of irreverence and whimsy. Among her many gifts is the ability to synthesize a deep knowledge of history, culture, new science, spirituality, and human development as she inspires personal growth and imaginative thinking. (I never had a clue about any of that stuff.) She’s an incredibly compelling speaker and has counseled heads of state, social leaders, educational institutions and business organizations globally, bringing forth new visions to expand human possibilities.
Play…we need it, maybe as much as kids do. Play is whatever we do for the sheer joy of doing it. Play allows us to explore, test and germinate new ideas, or shift old ones to different purpose. It generates optimism and improves memory. It relieves stress, allows us to toy with novelty, be more engaged, think more clearly. Play has the power to significantly improve our physical and mental health, stretching our ability to be flexible, to adapt, create, and innovate more easily. Play is not just for kids - it’s essential in, and of, itself.
Play can transport us back to a simpler time, when life was about having fun and enjoying ourselves. It lets us make mistakes, and even break rules. Play goes a long way in boosting our
Although I am very aware of mistakes made; I have to admit I’m rather pleased with several of the pieces I’ve created. My favorite so far is “Portals”. The full title is “Portals I - Access to the many dimensions of you, moving, changing, and transforming”.
Have you ever thought that every single decision you make is a potential step down a path to a different life? Some of these lives could be radically different from what went before, with others only the slightest breath different, yet still adding to the fullness of who we are. Each breath a new possibility.
While I’m fascinated by all forms of black and white line art, the Zentangle® Method uses structured patterns to create its own style of abstract art. It allows entry into a relaxed, meditative state, making for heightened intuition, as well as a sense of well-being and timelessness. It’s been a springboard for my launch into all kinds of art and creativity.
Art has changed my life since 2014, and when the opportunity arose to take the 6-week Train the Trainer class on Healing Through Art offered by California State University Institute for Palliative Care a few months back, I immediately signed up. The fundamental concept is that there is something inherent in the creative process which makes us feel good!
This is not art therapy. It does not require a therapist. The person who makes the art, makes their own meaning. The art itself acts as the “therapist”, allowing people to find healing through the process of creation.
I'm learning more about my art, and from my art, every day. It's not so much a matter of skill or practice... mostly it's a shift in perspective, a way of shaping how I look at and exist in the world.
Other Great Sites: