Today I decided to ask myself a question that I ask other people when I feel they’re struggling:
“What’s going on that you’re not telling me?”
That sentence is usually all that’s needed for a troubled friend to let go of what is causing her brow to knit together, or to “unclog” my teenaged son. (Okay, I might have to ask him MORE than once to get him to talk, but he’ll get there...)
They need a penny.
We all know and love that little dish full of pennies next to a cash register. It’s usually under a sign that reads something like: “Take a Penny, Leave a Penny.” You go to buy a sandwich at Wawa and it comes to $4.99, so you leave a penny. Or it’s $5.01, and you take a penny. So when my friend or son or sometimes even the lady behind me in the grocery store checkout line, hesitates before they continue: I have said more than once: “You know, sometimes you leave a penny in the dish, and sometimes you need to take one out. Maybe right now you need one?”
It's that permission to take what you need. That's all. And for someone to recognize that you're not being selfish by asking for what you need.
That furrow between my brow has dug in pretty well over this past year. I’ve been doling out a lot of pennies. Many people needed change, and I’ve been happy to empty my pockets, felt helpful. But for the past couple of months, I’ve only got big bills.
In other words, I’ve needed a penny.
This summer, I’ve mostly broken free from social media: from FB, from Blogger, from my website, Pinterest, Etsy. Hearing about all the doings by busy, vital, productive artists (and other nice folks) has, in the past, been uplifting to me, but of late, has been sort of bumming me out, so I unplugged. Email has been at a sort of minimum. Haven’t taken on any new projects, signed up for any shows, written much, including this blog. I’ve kinda gone dark. Let it be. I’ve picnicked with my boys, gone on bike rides, watched them swim, made cakes, got beaten at Rummy, folded clean clothes with pride, cleaned out closets. I’ve been reading books, instead of trying to write one. I’ve been going to see pots in museums, not making them. I’ve been sketching ideas, not enacting them.
But that’s okay. Sometimes you need a penny.
Has any of you ever needed a penny? Or know someone who does? Time to check those pockets...I’m know I’m starting to hear a jingle in my jeans again. :)