Saturday, February 8, 2014

What do you do for fun?

There was a running theme in my life for four weeks straight.  Everywhere I turned someone was confronting me with the same question and would thoughtfully ask me, “So, what do you do for fun?”

I typically never talk to the person sitting next to me while I am on an airplane.  As I settled in my seat while attempting to balance my Starbucks, purse, and laptop, the woman next to me offered to hold my coffee for me while I situated myself into my seat for the flight.  I politely thanked her as she handed back my coffee but I had a feeling she was not through wanting to talk to me. I pulled out a screenplay I was reading, put on my glasses, and immediately tried to disappear into the story with coffee in hand.  I could feel her watching as she was trying to determine what I was reading. It did not take long and she leaned over to ask, “What do you do?”  When I told her I was a writer and was currently trying to get my first manuscript published, she naturally asked what the book was about.  I looked at her and  simply replied, “Grief”.  She said, “Oh, now that is a much-needed topic.”

She went on to tell me that she had not only been widowed twice, but also had lost one of her sons when he was 21 when he was hit by a woman who was texting while driving. Upbeat and friendly in her tone and words, she began to share with me all of the ways she tries to make the best of her life each day.  She said music makes her happy so every morning the first thing she does is turn on music and it follows her throughout her day.  After much talking, she turned to me and said, “You have to find the things that make you happy and do those things.  What makes you happy? What do you do for fun?”

I was silent. Suddenly at a loss for words, I could not answer her questions.  I did not know what made me happy.  What do I do for fun?  I think I stopped fun 3 years ago when my husband died.  I was confronted with the realization that I had edged happiness and fun right out of my life.  I immediately sunk into deep thought, and sadness, as I admitted to myself that I could not quickly answer these simple questions because I was out of practice and had not experienced either in some time.

While sitting across from my sweet mother-in-law the next night over dinner in a busy restaurant, she narrowed her gaze on me, leaned forward and said directly to me, “What do you do for fun?”  I felt like I had just been blindsided.  Without moving my eyes away from hers, tears quickly began to spill over and run down my cheeks.  I covered my mouth with my napkin and shook my head.  She never took her eyes off of me as she continued to lean forward.  The sounds of the busy restaurant faded to a quiet buzz in the background as she firmly admonished me with these slow, deliberate, releasing words, “You’ve – got – to – live- your- life.”  We sat there staring at one another with our tear filled eyes locked.  She continued on with her words, “You are too young.  You are beautiful.  You are talented. You are a wonderful mother.  You have so much to offer….you’ve got to do it for you.

I kept staring at her as all of her words sunk into me like nourishment to my inner soul.  During the following silent seconds we simply looked at one another as if in agreement, while at the same time I was trying to keep my tears from going out of control.  I finally nodded my head as if to say, “Yes, ma’am.”

Two weeks later while talking to a new acquaintance back in New York, I was suddenly confronted again with the same simple, yet complicated, question. It resurfaced as if to remind me that it was not going anywhere until I could answer it….”So, what do you do for fun?

Why do I have to answer this?  Do I have to face this now? I am sure there are things I do for fun, aren’t there? Yes, I must turn my attention to this and allow myself to think about it. 

It was problematic to answer this because I realized that what I once did for fun or what once made me happy had changed and morphed into a different me. Well, actually not a different me, this “me” was always here.  I am only delayed in discovering parts of it, finally giving myself permission to it,  or have delayed it intentionally because I wanted to always do things for fun that my husband and I did together.  To answer it even more honestly, it is also because I denied myself for a long time convincing myself that it was not important.  It’s also easy as a mother to get caught up in what makes your kids happy or what they want to do for fun to the point that our personal preferences often get placed in the back seat or sadly, even forgotten.

So now I am looking at myself, as an individual.  Jene’ Ray Barranco…What do you do for fun?  What makes you happy?  A few of the answers that fall into the fun category are things that I think would be fun and I would like to try them, while others I have tried but it has been a long, long time since I did them, or still others, I am actually currently doing.

This was a necessary exercise for me and another step forward towards my life purpose. All of these baby steps slowly add up to great progress in this journey where God has placed me.  I had to put my gaze and my eyes straight ahead, not looking back, but looking squarely at the present and uncover this individual. It forced me to get reacquainted with Jene’ Ray Barranco and what makes her tick.  Thank you Rosemary, for making me talk to you on the plane that day.  You were an inspiration.

What do I do for fun?
Spend the day in NYC by myself or with a friend exploring
Spend time with a close girl friend simply being girls
Climb indoor rock walls
Play tennis
People watch in Central Park
Create anything
Watch the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden
Watch romantic comedies
Watch Modern Family…yes, I admit it☺
Listen to live music
Practice casting with a fly fishing rod
Browse through roadside antique shops
Try every flavor of ice cream in the summer
Eat at restaurants on my “To Try” list
Take high level cooking classes at the CIA
Listen to French music
Target practice with a shotgun
Play horse with my kids…because I am a really good☺
…And still more to come

What makes me happy?
Watching the sunrise on our property
Watching the sunset over the mountains
A delicious breve’ cappuccino at 5:30 in the morning
A delicious breve’ cappuccino at 1:30 in the afternoon
Music with a great groove
Baking anything
The smell of something baking in my house
Putting a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie in my mouth
Happy children
Eating a high quality, artisan dark chocolate
Having meals planned
A long time of prayer and conversation with God
Pinot noir with a friend
Great conversations
Quality time with people that matter to me
Worship music
Dancing…this one overlaps☺
Reading books aloud to children
Sending people “happies” in the mail
Getting unsolicited hugs from my children
Catching a fish
Watching I Love Lucy
Nail polish on my fingernails and toenails
… And still more to come

1 comment:

  1. Jene', I loved reading this. It gave words and substance to what I stumbled upon in my own life, after my husband left. For about 5 of the last 10 years I grieved the loss, and took care of my son. In the past 3 years, I have learned how to have FUN! I am now living my life like it's golden. Living the John 10:10 life that Jesus died for me to have. Saturdays are my day to do exactly what I want to do. That day is typically filled with: homeless ministry, walking in a park, walking down a street I have always wanted to explore, going to Goodwill Outlet and finding a "treasure," eating lunch at the Cornerstone Cafe, etc. I used to mourn how alone I felt, and now I treasure every blessing that brings me joy.