All Stopped Up

All Stopped Up

When I was a little girl I had allergies. This was before Claritin or Allegra. It was before allergy testing and allergy shots became vogue. My mom treated my allergies by stuffing my pockets with tissue and swearing by Robitussin. I almost can remember the feeling of grasping for used tissue in my pink puffer coat in first grade. I loved that pink puffer coat.

Not long ago I ran into an old classmate: “What I remember about you, Emily, is that you always had Kleenex in your coat pockets.”


My allergies have subsided greatly since elementary school. In fact, I barely struggle with seasonal hay fever. My husband and children, on the other hand, often must take allergy medicine to keep them from suffering the stuffy and drippy side effects.

For years we could count on the fact that Jon would get sick twice a year…during Spring and Fall allergy season. His allergies would get activated by ragweed or dogwood or some other southeast Tennessee allergen and within a couple of weeks infection would set in. The past two years he has taken allergy medicine on almost a daily basis…and for two years he has avoided getting sick.

Allergic reaction by way of a stopped up or runny nose with itchy, watery eyes and a scratchy throat is miserable. I remember that even if I felt AWFUL my parents would send me to school…unless I had a fever. ONLY if I had a fever could I claim to be “sick”. Otherwise, the mantra from my childhood was “it’s just allergies”.

I’m sure I heard myself say that last week.

I have since decided that there is no such thing as “just” allergies. Your head feels like it is full of cotton. None of your senses work well. You can’t touch, hear, see, smell, or taste right. It is like you are experiencing the world through a haze.

And, like it does for my husband…infection often sets in. Because all of that runny, snotty mess is hanging out in your head…germs fester and multiply. It settles into your lungs and you soon can’t breathe.


Most of the general public acknowledges that childhood goes until about age twelve when abstract thinking develops and magical thinking begins to wane. Slowly imagination is usurped by pragmatism. Instead of the childhood question “What do you want to be when you grow up”…a question filled with wonder and room for dreams…the question changes slightly to “What are your plans for the future?”

Plans. Discipline. Goals. Hard work…important, vital skills for successful adults. Becoming a parent solidifies the deal. There is nothing like being responsible for a tiny baby to kick your idealism to the curb and your practicality into high gear.

Bills. Insurance. Mortgage. College fund. Retirement. Gas. Electric. School fees. Dental cleanings. Doctor well checks. Sick visit co-pays. Orthodontist appointments. Parent/teacher meetings. Extracurricular scheduling. Carpool.

And, then another day begins.

Who has time for wonder?



We begin to stand over our world, like a god, pushing and shoving it into obedience.

In fact, we are petrified of standing UNDER the weight of our daily schedule. We want to LIVE LIFE…not let life LIVE US.



“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3.


Children look up at the world. They look up at EVERYTHING. Their eyes fill with wonder as they look to grasp fireflies. Their feet spring as they look up, flying into the sky from the trampoline. Their hands reach, while looking up the tree they want to climb. Their eyes search the faces of those they look UP TO as they learn and soak in a world of information from anyone and everyone around them.

Children have a posture of wonder. They look UP…with expectation, dreams, and curiosity…flexible, resilient, and creative.

Definitely NOT all STOPPED UP.

I am reminding myself…encouraging myself…to adopt a posture of wonder. A posture of looking up. Looking up to those around me with respect and willingness to learn. Looking up to discover what new adventure and surprise my Maker has for me today. Looking up to take in this life…to let life live me a little today…rather then being intent on living life…to let life soak into me this day…rather than me squeezing the life out of it. Looking up, realizing that I do not have all of the answers…that I am not expected to…and that this fact is a WONDER-ful thing.

Too often adults are all stopped up. There is no more flow. They have become allergic to LIFE. Our adult heads feel like they are full of cotton. None of our senses work as well. We can’t touch, hear, see, smell, or taste right. It is like we are experiencing the world through a haze.

And, like it does with allergies…after a while infection often sets in. Because all of that runny, snotty mess of PLANNING and THINKING (not dreaming) is hanging out in our heads and it festers and multiplies. It settles into our lungs and we soon can’t breathe.

Some call this state being depressed. I wonder how many adults walk around with low-grade depression from the top-down, beat-the-day-into-surrender, stressed-out American life being sold to us right now.

Go chase some fireflies. Those magical creatures are about to make their appearance here in the south. I don’t know what your thing is…but whatever gets you flowing…whatever gets you “unstopped”…do it. Get “unstopped up”. Adopt a position of wonder. Look up to life for a while.


Like pushing something heavy that is standing still, it will be difficult to get some momentum….you will feel STUCK as well as STOPPED UP. Just get started. Find your creative outlet, your childlike position of wonder…your CHILD’S PLAY…and DO IT.

Life won’t get away from you. In fact, I dare say that when you make it a habit to be childlike…to adopt a position of wonder…when you take some time to be creative…to look UP to others…to look UP to life…to do the work of getting “unstopped”…you will become “unSTOPpable”.

You gotta do it.

For me it is writing and being outside. For very normal and natural reasons I go through seasons as a parent when I cannot do these things as much…like during the winter or after a baby is born. At some point I can tell that I am getting “all stopped up”. It influences everything…my parenting, my friendships, my work as a therapist and teacher.

The only remedy at that point is for me to do my thing…to write, to get outside…to get UNSTOPPED.

I am a better wife, mother, friend…a better EVERYTHING…when I am practicing my childlike stance…my position of wonder…my discipline of PLAY.

Do it.

It’s SPRING! Go write a book. Go run a mile. Go jump in a puddle.

Take a dose of playful Allegra.

Laugh. Play. Adopt a position of WONDER and watch as your senses come ALIVE…as your head, your heart, your SELF…cease being ALL STOPPED UP.