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A Gift of Time

A gift of time. In 1988 I started back into school. I was 36 years old and I needed to get a college degree. I had decided to become a minister in the Episcopal Church and needed a degree to go to Seminary. I met Dr. Terry Ley who talked me into, albeit with no difficulty at all, going into college with the aspirations of becoming a secondary language arts teacher. And so, I pursued this end with passion and joy.

One of the first things I learned was about writing. Although I had always considered myself quite a writer, I realized I was a hack. Not really a hack, just that I was a writer in a very small world. I had written successfully and happily, a play. The play was produced off off Broadway in an Equity Showcase theater mostly because I was in the right place at the right time.

Time. It was this time that I learned in college, that we could give ourselves what we called a gift of time. A gift of time. And that gift was a slowing down of time. A slowing down of the present moment to take in the present moment to write. Thank you Dr. Richard Graves. Whew. As a teacher, I used that phrase daily. I got it. The gift of time was a way of saying that I was taking the time to write, to express as I needed, the time I deserved, to write – to write what I wanted to write… to write what I needed to write. To see myself. To know myself. To love myself.

And then, of course, life took over. My teaching career became a beautiful experience, which, led to a career and the experience of personal growth…think about it for just a moment, when I take the time to write about myself and my life, I am certainly opening myself up for growth. Eventually I obtained a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology and Drama Therapy Studies. I became a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Florida. And I still taught writing. Always taught writing. Because when I wrote the first poem that expressed my feelings about my father’s death, I learned that writing was the growth tool that did it for me. (And seriously folks, why I didn’t get that sooner had merely to do with everything that was going on in the 70s.)

My life continued rather non miraculously. Marriage, children, divorce, move to Florida, Graduate School, incredible career, falling magnificently in love and reaching the beautiful golden years… and then a pandemic of unusual proportions. It’s a Stop the World period of time. Every day is a Groundhog Day. I’m still teaching writing; Zooming along with our society. Every week, I use the term, “a gift of time.” Every week, I do the same things, day in and day out. Except now with this pandemic, all of us thrown for a loop, I work from home. I teach from home. I find my gift of time from home. I search for the gift.

And so it is…it was the asparagus. We are so blessed to have fresh asparagus. And so grateful to cook crab cakes and a lovely dinner. Yes, it was the fresh asparagus that created such an awareness, that created such a foundational moment of universal connection to the core of my life. Sweet potatoes, too. Sliced tomatoes. And a gift of time.

I recognized my usual pattern of cooking, as quickly as possible is a probable mantra. I love to cook. I love to cook quickly and efficiently. I want whole foods, mostly vegan and I want to eat before seven if possible. So usually we eat around ten. Sometimes nine thirty. And we eat well. The same foods over and over. Because of time. It’s easier. The weekends are for experimenting in Neatballs and energy balls and bean burgers and … the weekdays are for tuna steaks seared in Braggs and toasted sesame oil. Once in a while, we eat so beautifully that we remember it. These meals become a memory, aesthetically and emotionally designed, focused on what we aspire towards.

So, this asparagus, from the time it took for the washing to the eating presented me with this, this gift, this exception, this moment of peace and goodness. The weekdays, the pre-COVID days, have always been for the oven temperatures we can count on for the foods we cook so that everything can work right on schedule, just as we needed it to. Because we had no time. Well, now we do have time. Things have changed. Dinner is served. Asparagus anyone?

Petrina McGowen has learned that she takes herself so seriously so others don’t have to, that she has a better sense of humor than a sensitivity to almost any subject and that life is meant to be lived wholeheartedly with passion and…always love. Petrina maintains a private practice as a licensed marriage & family therapist and drama therapist, providing transpersonal and creative arts therapy online and in office. She grew up in a creative environment and has been writing and teaching writing for over 50 years. She lives happily and lovingly with her husband, Charlie Hankin in Jensen Beach, Florida. Find her at;; on Facebook @ Petrina McGowen/TheraPeteePLC; or email:


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