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Time to Play!!
It’s summer!! A time that generally says “long, lazy days…let’s play!” Remember back when you were a kid? When the school year FINALLY came to an end and the feeling you felt of freedom and endless opportunities to play? How awesome it was to walk out of school that last day, get home and tear out the pages of the notebooks and toss them away into the garbage and then go running into whatever adventure had in store for you?
Yeah, I barely remember either.
I’m sort of living it again through my kids, and when I was a teacher I ABSOLUTELY felt that relief and exhale that came when I locked up my empty classroom and set out for a long, luxurious break.
But I’m concerned that as middle age women, we aren’t playing enough. And I’m not talking about “self care” and what bullshit that’s come to mean. I love a nice long bubble bath as much as the next gal, or getting my nails done or whatever. But I’m talking about PLAY.
Play is a different kind of animal altogether. Play is done for only one reason…there is no reason. It’s about delight, enjoyment, wonder. And just as it does for kids, play looks different to different women.
For some women it’s adventurous play: kayaking, rafting, hiking. For others it’s a lazy day in a hammock. Others still find play in digging into a creative endeavor for no other reason than it’s fun! Imagine that!! Spending time just to feel a fluttering of delight and gladness in your heart!!
What happens if we stop playing? Who do we become? I’m afraid to know that for myself. I think for a while there I did stop playing. Ironically, it was when my kids were pretty
little and I was doing a fair share of “playing” with them. And it was fun to watch them delight, but inside I wasn’t really feeling playful. My marriage was imploding and I didn’t have a strong sense of self. I really couldn’t play just for me for a long time. I didn’t know how, and if I’m being truly honest, I don’t think I thought I deserved it. When your heart is breaking, how can you allow it to soar and have fun and play?
It’s taken me years of practice to learn how to play again. I had to start slowly and allow the possibility and then kinda fake it for a while. But, I’m thrilled to say, that what’s happened is that I now play often! What can happen is that the shit that used to feel like drudgery can actually become play when you have a playful mindset! Sometimes I have to work to make something playful. Silly, right? But I make the crap I don’t want to do fun, so at least there is a wisp of play involved.
As for real hardcore play? I do some of that too. For me, it’s travel, making art, kayaking, reading a good book just for fun, making time for friends, dancing to 80’s music in the grocery store, acting like a kid with my kids, and sometimes it’s simply just not fucking doing the shit I don’t want to do and NOT FEELING GUILTY FOR IT. I’m still working on that last one, but I’m trying to do it more and more.
So, what about you? What’s your form of play? Here’s a little exercise you can do…right now, jot down at least 5, but as many as you can, things you can do this summer to play…this is called a brain dump and there is no judgement. Do NOT give a second’s attention to any of the reasons why you shouldn’t or couldn’t do the things, just write them down.
Then pick 3 you’d really like to commit to. Then TELL SOMEONE ABOUT THEM!! Because we’re generally idiots, we will more likely show up for someone else than we will for ourselves. So, do this with a buddy, a partner, a kid. Someone who will check in and say “so, did you eat the popsicle in the hammock? Did you try stand up paddle boarding? When are you going to go dancing?”
Commit to your play, sister! It will not only help you, it will heal your heart and your delight and gladness will ripple out into the world. And for goodness sake, we could sure use some delight and gladness!!!
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