Go Big Or Go Home...Or Just Go Find YOUR Carousel!

It was December 2012 - the Friday before Christmas - when I first laid eyes on her. We were leaving one of many museums lining the National Mall. As we walked and talked, her regal beauty caught my eye, leaving me momentarily mesmerized. 

She was easily the largest CAROUSEL I had ever laid eyes on. Inside my body was a little voice exclaiming, “PLEASE, OH PLEASE CAN WE GO FOR A RIDE?!” But, when asked if I wanted to check it out, the big adult voice sheepishly said, "No. It’s too cold. Maybe another time.” 

In the years since, each time I happened upon the Carousel’s neighborhood, the little Kid in my spirit would perk up, hopeful THIS would be the time she would be allowed to go for a whirl. And each time she was painfully disappointed that, once again, it was not the “right time”. 

But, with Summer upon us and a desperate need for a Play Date, I (the Adult) was determined to honor the promise made three years ago with a trip to Downtown DC for the SOLE purpose of taking a spin on that Carousel. AND I decided Penny would have to come along for the ride! 

Just over a city block away from this special treat to MY Kid, Penny (I think it might have actually been HER Kid) spotted an ice cream truck parked along a busy street. For weeks she had been craving a chocolate-vanilla swirl soft serve cone and, to her delight, one was prominently pictured on the side of this truck. It was as though the angels in heaven were smiling down on us and singing, “Have fun, Kids!”

As Penny indulged in the creamy goodness of her cone, a stranger stopped us to ask where he could get his own cone. She pointed the nice gentleman in the right direction and we walked away giggling. Clearly, everyone loves a chocolate-vanilla soft serve swirl cone.

Just as I started to practically skip toward the gate surrounding the Carousel, it happened. I slowed down, almost tripping on my excitement. A feeling of dis-ease washed over me. Without notice, my brain switched from carefree to pensive, worrisome. 

What will people say? 

What will people think? 

Am I too old for this? 

Am I too big for this? 

What am I doing? 

Play? I’m too old to play!

I could feel the youthful spirit deflating as that (Adult) voice began to speak. With each step closer, the voice became louder. Unbeknownst to Penny, who relishing the last tastes of her cone, I was dealing with an internal struggle. A very real, emotional struggle leaving me faced with two options — Go Big! or Go Home!

And as though it were truly as easy as flipping a switch, I took My moment back. I had waited too long to bring this moment to fruition. There was no excuse real enough, no staring eyes big enough, no fear great enough to keep me from honoring that little girl inside of me who just wanted to have a little fun, to feel the wind blow through her hair as she went round & round in circles, bouncing up & down to Carousel jams. 

Round and went we went. The ride was fast. The music was loud. And for a few minutes, I was carefree, feeling the cool air kiss my face, enjoying the sound of giggles from the kiddos around me. 

I got off, feeling accomplished, like I had broken down some mysterious barrier. A barrier stopping me from living fully. I walked away seeing that Carousel as more than a kiddie ride, offering a few minutes of needed play. That beautiful Carousel was a metaphor for my life...

Where there is vision, there is hope and promise. Yes, there will be times when I feel unsure, nervous or scared, but those feelings are not a reason to stop, to give up. There will always be those who disagree with My approach, finding it silly or unrealistic, but I can only live by what feels right in my spirit and for my life. And on those days when I feel like giving up is the best option, I get to choose to keep moving. 

Whether I like it or not, life is an amazing ride that will spin round and round. Sometimes it will go fast, faster than wanted or expected. Sometimes the music will be loud. But, if we allow ourselves to melt into the moments we are given as the wind rushes through our hair and kiddos giggle around us, we are able to discover what it really means to be alive. 

Now go find your carousel ride!