‘It is play, not properness, that is the central artery, the core, the brain stem of creative life. The impulse to play is an instinct. No play, no creative life. Be good, no creative life. Sit still, no creative life. Speak, think, act only demurely, little creative juice. Any group, society, institution, or organization that encourages women to revile the eccentric; to be suspicious of the new and unusual; to avoid the fervent, the vital, the innovative; to impersonalize the personal, is asking for a culture of dead women.’

Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Has anyone read this book? I’ve broken my 3 month detox off self-help, spiritual books. I’m weak, I’m human. I must have my addiction fix. And it’s so worth it. Even though it shakes my boat of merrily rocking down life with blocked creative arteries.

It’s a hectic paragraph from a very hectic book. She speaks about hags and bones, death mother and all sorts of things that I’ve shied away from all my life. In fact I’ve had this book on my shelf for four years and I haven’t picked it up once. I bought it for myself on a whim in the Johannesburg airport, and now I’ve opened it and it is wise and it has a lot to offer women, mothers and even men. (There is such a thing as a wild, instinctual man.)

I’ve read a lot about the dark side, our shadow self and how important it is to integrate it as a whole in our lives. I’ve never really done it, even though I’ve tried and am still trying. I’m still very married to the ‘good girl’ persona. The ‘perfect wife’ ‘devoted mother’ persona. Everything that makes everyone else happy.

Now to discard these personas is a scary business because it can lead to destruction. And Clarissa Pinkola Estes attests to this in her book. She says that women whose instincts have long been suppressed, when they awaken to their creative selves they can be unbridled and damaging. She says, ‘Overkill through excesses, or excessive behaviours, is acted out by women who are famished for a life that has meaning and makes sense for them. When a woman has gone without her cycles or creative needs for long periods of time, she begins a rampage of – you name it – alcohol, drugs, anger, spirituality, oppression of others, promiscuity, pregnancy, study, creation, control, education, orderliness, body fitness, junk food, to name a few areas of common excess. When women do this, they are compensating for the loss of regular cycles of self-expression, soul-expression, soul-satiation.’

I never knew that spirituality, pregnancy, creation, study and education could be excessive. (Says the self-help book addict.) I’ve seen women who ‘go off the wall’. Leave their husbands, children and society in order to find themselves. I’ve heard of affairs, and I’ve judged it all. How could they? But for them it must have been how could they not? And for me it just emphasises how important it is for women to feed their souls, to investigate and find their creativity. To go back to playing and having fun. Instead of making themselves, their homes ‘perfect’. And for those who even try their kids ‘perfect’.

It’s about going back to basics, back to play. To picking up a paint brush, a pen, a pair of takkies and going for a walk. Reassessing our values and honestly seeing where are we suffocating, falling short on our lives? I’m not immune to it. I get very, very despondent sometimes. Especially on holiday with the kids. There’s no time for myself. I’m running after three pairs of muddy feet all day, and it seems like I’m the only domesticated one amongst all these brutes (very cute ones) who block toilets and smudge strawberries into the carpet whilst cooking with every utensil in the drawers (that’s what happens when mummy takes 10 minutes to herself to do yoga in her room – bad mummy). Without me they’d live on crackers and cheese until the cheese ran out. And who’s fault is it?

It’s not theirs. They are just children. I brought them into the world and I set the rules in my marriage as the ‘good wife’ when I got married (at the child bride age of 20 – but yes still my choice). It’s harder to face the fact that no ones going to give me my creative time and life on a platter. ‘Go write Sarah, it’ll do you good.’ I need to ask for it, take it, grab it selfishly. For their sake, and mine of course.

So I’ve taken the hour today to write a story. Taken another hour whilst the Princes are swimming with their dad to write a blog entry. Playing by ourselves is quite simple once we get through the PSYCHE of NO. Not an easy task which is why I need to repeat ‘yes to play’ in my own life over and over and over again. And for that matter over and over in this blog.

And I do feel better, much better after writing. Good enough to go biking on the golden mile in Durban. (Our activity for the day which is a must for anyone thinking of holidaying here.) But first I’m going to walk and get a Woolies soy coffee – another glorious thing for me…

Disclaimer – I can’t help thinking that maybe I am a bit self-indulgent over here. Going on and on about the importance of play. (Although it’s not just me it’s every freaking book I read.) I know we all live high pressured lives. But that’s exactly the point why are we all walking around so frazzled and busy and yet so unfulfilled??? I’m going to crack the code for me, and enjoy as many cappuccinos as I can whilst I’m at it. And I’m not talking pedicures and manicures ladies. Although they are lovely and please get them done (I love it when I have red nails). However I’ve discovered that beautiful toes and fingers don’t fill that emptiness, that feeling that ‘I’m missing something but what is it?’ I know that I don’t have that feeling after I write. It’s worth finding what fills you and doing it. And if it’s the nails well that’s really, really lucky because they last at least a whole week.