I asked a client last week what the word “Play” means to them. It really got me wondering what that word means to me as well. Many told me spending time with their families equaled play to them. Being with grandkids. Being with their dogs (me too!). Drawing. Dancing (Mine!)
Then I asked what stops them from playing every day? Lack of time was the most common answer. These questions of course made me stop and think. You can’t present someone with a question without answering yourself! So, play to me are these things…dancing, singing, barre, yoga, Pilates, laughter, playing hide and seek with my friend’s kids, playing games, playing with my dogs. I can usually find fun in everything but those were the things that came to mind.
Why don’t I play every day? Because I’m tired. Because I run out of time. Because sometimes I just don’t. And when I don’t, it’s usually because I just want to be on the couch watching TV or playing on my phone. There goes the no time thing. If I’m tired, I don’t want to dance. Or workout. But I could color (something I actually do really love) instead of scrolling through my Facebook feed a million times. And there I have it. I am addicted to my phone. Which has begun to take away my play time. I think of my phone as a stress relief. But I know it’s actually adding to my stress level. For many reasons.
I was helping my best friend put up Christmas decorations a couple weeks ago. When I walked into another room I saw her two-year-old little girl just staring up at some lights that were on a wire Christmas tree. She was mesmerized. And I couldn’t help thinking to myself where that magic had gone from my mind. Two seconds later we were playing chase and she was giggling up a storm as I switched directions or hid and scared her. The giggling is infectious to me. I can’t get enough time with her and she makes me remember the importance of playing. Every day. Even when we don’t want to. And play doesn’t need to be expensive! Just be silly!
I am a part of the TV show Friends generation. One episode stands out to me as I write this. Rachel and Phoebe were out running. Rachel was always concerned about what others thought so of course ran with the correct form and skill. While Phoebe took off, waving her hands around and skipping as she ran. Rachel was mortified at first and tried to avoid running with Phoebe. Phoebe asks her why she doesn’t want to run with her and Rachel answers that she embarrassed her with her ridiculous behavior. She challenges Rachel to try it and she does. To her surprise, she finds it’s awesome and makes running way more fun! When she let go of what strangers might think of her, she learned to play and found joy in something that was good for her. In life, are you a Phoebe or a Rachel? I think there is a time and a place for appropriateness. But not every second.
Life has made me a bit more serious this last year. But I love being silly and ridiculous! I love when people see me acting “weird” and then smile because of it. If my weirdness makes even one person smile, I’m ok with that. People being weird makes me smile and laugh all the time! It feeds my soul! And I know it feeds others souls as well!
Really begin to take notes. What does it me when you hear the word play? What is playing to you? Do you play daily? What stops you from playing daily? If you are worried about being judged, stop it! Who cares?! Those people are probably jealous that they can’t play just like you! And most likely you’ll bring a smile to at least one person’s face. And it’s hard not to smile back.
Today let’s commit to each other. Let’s take at least 20 minutes every day to just play. To just enjoy life again. Begin tracking how you feel after you play. Observe when your inner child wants to play but you stop her because you feel you might be judged. Ask yourself why you care? Sure. There are times she can’t always play when she wants, but if there are no repercussions, why are you worried? Don’t stop her! Let her out! I promise, you’ll thank yourself later.