Players…

For several years…I’ve had a little gadget on my desk…the base is a magnet…and it had ten little metal men…which are clips…that could be arranged in multiple ways…I’m sure it’s meant to be…a…stress reliever…

At first…I kept it over to the side…accessible only to me…and…every so often…but not very…I would play with them…

Until…

One day…I moved it to the other side of the desk…and…very interested children…started to play with it…and…what I noticed was…it kept their attention…as they were waiting for medicine…or a band aid…they were totally mesmerized…by the magnet…and…the ten little men…

And…then…just like the…little Indian song…there were…nine…and…eight…and…seven…

Until…there were…six…

A student recently observed…that someone had been…stealing…my little men…as she played with them…between inhaler puffs…implying that I should do something…to…prevent it from happening…

Thankfully…Bertha…had gone to work with me that day…and…she explained…that…yes…having the little men accessible…put them at risk…but…that when they were out of harm’s way…so to speak…there was…no pleasure…no one enjoyed them…and…that it was worth the risk…of losing them…for all the pleasure they brought…

Her answer seemed to satisfy the student…who returned to class…leaving me to…contemplate…the message…thatBertha…was actually giving me…

And…it came out as this…

Sometimes in life…playing it safe…isn’t playing…at all…

Hmmm…

Jane

Runaway…

For as long as I can remember…when things got stressful…I wanted to run away from home…

As a preschooler…that meant…running away to…Aunt Lizzie’s house…she lived about a quarter mile up the dirt road from us…I never made it all the way…there was a small tree about halfway…it was there that I would stop to rest…and…Mama…would retrieve me…with a spanking and a hug…and…a grave promise from me…not to do that again…

Of course…I lied…

I can remember…lying in bed…as a teenager…experiencing…all the angst…that a hormonal girl can feel…and…wanting to hop in my 1959 VW Beetle…and hit the road…fortunately…I never did that…but…the longing was always there…

During my divorce…from my once husband…the need to flee…became great…and…I did…I ran away from home…well…not really…people knew where I was…my kids were taken care of…but…I did take a long weekend to St. Simmons Island…and…it felt like…running away

Years later…going through a particularly stressful time at work…getting ready for a JCAHO survey…and…some personal issues…I wanted to…BOLT…but…it was a time…that I had…neither…time…nor…money…to do so…

Just before all sanity left me…a little voice…yes…I’m sure it was…Bertha…even though I didn’t know her at the time…said…why not run to Sipsey…

Sipsey…of course…the Bankhead National Forest…and…Sipsey Wilderness…are minutes from my house…I’ve been going there…since I was a toddler…

I donned all my winter garments…including a pair of oversized bright orange coveralls…and…hit the trails…I remember…the freedom…and release…I felt that day…it was the perfect escape…

And…just in case…I needed any confirmation…I found my name…carved…in stone…on a huge rock…jutting out into the water…the perfect spot…for contemplation…

Bertha…says…that…there’s nothing wrong with my need to…run away…that…it is actually a good thing…to give myself the space I need…to recharge…to sort things out…when things get stressful…

She just reminds me…to be selective in how I do it…to choose ways…that actually…recharge me…rather…than adding more stress to my life…

And…Sipsey…still fits that bill…to a tee…

Jane