Learning to Play, Again

When was the last time you played?

Where you did something so fun you lost the track of time?

Or laughed with pure joy and delight and didn’t even care who heard you.

Or just ran and then did a cartwheel (or maybe just turned in circles a few times), just because you were so happy and your body wanted to move?

It seems as we get older and weighed down with responsibilities, play is not something we actively engage in. Something we pursue. An attitude we cultivate.

It’s summer. And play and having fun is on the minds of a lot of children. But somewhere between the end of elementary school and college we think play is for toddlers. We think we are to cool to play. We may even lose the ability to play and be silly, unless we get around little ones thigh high and shorter.

Want to learn how to play again? Look no farther then toddlers and little ones. Young children know how to instinctively play.

They laugh in pure delight when something tickles their fancy, like petting a cat for the first time. They will burst out in laughter just because they had a funny thought. Or if they see something that doesn’t make sense. Laughter and pure joy flows out of them as they take in the world and try and figure things out.

A little one is at my house. I am making pasta and I have the Parmesan cheese out. I know she likes cheese. “Want some cheese?” I ask. She says, “Yes.” I pull out a spaghetti thin sprig of Parmesan and hand it to her. She takes one look at this offering and bursts out laughing. Her face crinkled in delight.

“That’s not cheese,” she says. And I realize she is laughing because cheese is usually a different color and shape. This is something she has not encountered. She thinks I am teasing her.

One taste, and she wants more.

Young children laugh and smile and are not concerned with what others are thinking. If others are laughing with them or at them. They have a confidence that does not care if their cartwheel is lopsided. They are not looking to see if their tennis skirt is the same as anyone else’s. They don’t know about being cool or outside the popular circle or fitting in. They don’t critique themselves and their performance. Or compare themselves with others.

They are learning about the world and life and how they do it is by playing and having fun. Something new is always around the corner. Their senses are open to this new delight.

What keeps us from engaging in play?

 

1. We rush to do more. Accomplish more. We are thinking about the laundry scattered across the laundry room floor. The bills that need to be paid. The calls made. The time we are wasting.

2. We worry about what others will think. Sometimes we feel the urge to burst out in song, do a cartwheel, laugh loud, hug an almost stranger, but our fears, our not wanting to do the wrong thing, the worry of being judged, keep us from it. Or maybe it is that voice in our head telling us not to make a fool of our self, to grow up, to quit acting like a kid.

3. We compare ourselves to others, the standards in our head, and to the rules of life. We critique ourselves more than we should.

4. We think work is more important. The most important thing. That all our work should be done before we play.

5. We think play is for children. It is silly and frivolous. Childish.

6. We have no one to play with. Playing can be solitary, but sometimes the best play takes place with another or others. Play is often communal, a back and forth with another.

7. We find it hard to relax and just let things happen. Play is often spontaneous.

8. We don’t want to make a mistake or do it wrong. As if play has to be done only one way.

9. We think work is work and play is play and the two cannot be combined. Little children combine the two all the time. And we can too. Just be creative

It’s summer, the time associated with hours of free time and play. Let’s not let the summer go by without playing.

Can we turn our inner voice off and not critique our play or compare it to other?

Can we just immerse our self in the moment and the delight and look at the world with awe and wonder for just a short while?

Having trouble? Hang around some little ones and let yourself relax and be silly.

So, what does play look like for you?

Spending time outside. Gathering with friends. Crafting. Gardening. Big messy board games. Silly time with kiddos. Testing the playground equipment. Running. Playing basketball. Teasing someone. Flirting with your mate. Making mud pies. Diving into a cold lake and screaming loud and long. Dancing in the kitchen, even if everyone is watching. Yodeling hello to the moon. Hanging upside down by your knees from a tree branch.

Find your happiness spot or sport and don’t worry about embarrassing your kids or if people are laughing at you. Because sometimes people are really wishing they were as brave as you are and could be a little more playful themselves.

Play on. You may inspire others to once again discover the joy of play.

Because a lot of play is an attitude. Not an item on our to-do list.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 

Join the Discussion: What does play look like for you? What is keeping you from playing more (mine would be number 4)?

Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope).  A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Pat and Candy, Messy Marriage, Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth), Missional Women, Sincerely PaulaCrystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), and Lili Dunbar (#FaithOnFire).

Playing At Life

Young children know how to play.  

They laugh and smile and are so unconscious. They flip lopsided cartwheels through the air, totally unconcerned with their form. They chase after a bunny, laughing in sheer delight. They talk about meeting a bear in a cave, before entering a little cavern. They laugh when you pinch their piggies and tell them which little piggy went squealing all the way home.

They are not thinking about their outfit. Their hair. Their sports equipment. The bills that need paying and laundry piled on the floor of the laundry room.

Little one is looking out the window as we cross town and suddenly I hear her laughing. At what, I don’t know. It could be something she saw out the window. It may be her own thoughts, which delight her, more often than not.

We get to my house and I am making pasta. I ask Little One if she wants some parmesan cheese. Yes, she likes to try anything, and I know cheese is one of her favorites. I hand her a sprig of parmesan. She laughs. Never has she seen such stringy, thin white spaghetti style cheese. I laugh with her. Really it is cheese, I tell her. Try it.

She tries a stringy taunt piece and wants more.

Life is a game. It is fun. Something new is always on the horizon.

Playing all day is part of the job of childhood, and children do it well.

I love being around young children because they are playful. And if you open up your arms and heart just a little, you will become more playful. More silly. Less concerned about your to-do list and more living in the moment.  

It is not something they schedule in their busy day, because it is part of their day. Their attitude is one of playfulness and curiosity. Awe and wonder are all around them and they are going to find it.

What about you? Can you pause and find your playful attitude?

 

Sometimes We Need a Re-Do!

Sometimes you just need a reset. A do over. A mulligan. Another try.

And not just me, but other people too. And we need to give them one. Handed on a plate and freely exchanged.

We were in Chicago this year, visiting the aquarium. After wandering through the wet and watery exhibits and seeing everything from sea horses to dolphins to clown fish, we were getting hungry. Off to the cafeteria we headed.

We perused the choices. Funny how none of us were hungry for fish. I guess seeing lots of different varieties of fish does not make one hungry for fish. No, we were eyeing the pizza, soup, salad, and sandwiches.

The place you order hot food is an inverted hexagon. Three windows, all set at angles to one another, make up the ordering and serving area. Each window is two feet, maybe three, from the next window.

Now each of these windows had ordering lines set up with some rope and waist high poles, but as we were the only people in the food area, my hubby and son walked up to the middle window that served pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

After a short wait, a lady emerged and asked them for their order.

“Pizza,” my son said.

“Speak up,” she said.

“Pizza.”

“What kind?”

“Cheese.”

The lady muttered something about kids needing to speak up and slapped a piece of cheese pizza on a plate.

She looked frazzled. Sounded frazzled. Like her day had not gone as planned. Maybe she was supposed to be on break, and here she was serving the very occasional customer who was wandering in long after lunch time.

Whatever the reason or backstory, she was not in a good mood. Nor would she have won the happy award.

After handing our son his pizza, she nodded at hubby.

“Soup, please. Chicken Noodle,” he said.

She gave him the stink eye. “This window is for hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza. Soup is that window,” she said, pointing to the window on her left. The next window two feet away.

‘Well, I just thought,” hubby started to say.

“You just thought,” she said, “but you did not read. All the windows are clearly marked.”

I knew what hubby was thinking. One lady working all three windows which just open into one large kitchen area, no need to move to the next window. No one behind, in front, or anywhere in the vicinity. Couldn’t he order soup without navigating back through the rope lines and re-entering the roped off area for the first window. The soup window.

My hubby stood there a moment trying to figure out why she couldn’t move two feet to her right and just scoop some soup into a bowl. The soup pot on the counter was already practically in reaching distance of her.

“All soup orders are taken and filled there,” she huffed to hubby and pointed at the soup window.

“Over there,” son pointed.

“Okay,” hubby said.

They exited line 2 and entered line 1. The soup line.

They stood a moment. Clearly, she had gone somewhere else.

Shortly she appeared at the window. And this time she had a smile on her face.

“Now what can I get you?” she asked, looking at hubby.

“Chicken Noodle Soup. A bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup,” he said.

“Coming right up,” she said, grabbing a bowl and ladling it full. “How has your visit been?” she asked, making small talk.

“Fine. Good.” he said.

She handed him the bowl and smiled at son and father. “Enjoy the rest of your visit.”

Now what happened between her few steps between window 2 and window 1, I don’t know, but her attitude had been reset. Grouchy became pleasant. Impatient became sweet.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am grouchy and impatient like that lady. Snapping at those around me and insisting things get done my way. Which is of course the one and only correct way (or so I sometimes think). And sometimes I need a re-set. A do-over. A new turn.  Another chance. Or maybe a turn around.

Hubby and son regaled me with the story of their ordeal of ordering lunch when they met me at the table. We laughed about them having to change lines to get some soup. But hubby ended the story about how she was so pleasant at window one and so helpful.

Who knows what had just happened before she came out to serve the pizza?

I know when that happens to me, I want the benefit of doubt. I don’t want to be remembered as the grouch and grump that I was, I want to be remembered as the pleasant and nice person I change into.

Because when it comes down to it, I need lots of re-dos, turn arounds, and detours in my day.

And the good thing is, these detours and changes are always available when I need one. Every moment is a new moment. Grace and forgiveness are only a breath away. A smile is ready to spring to my lips when I tell myself the truth and look for the positive. A harsh voice can be softened with a moment of putting myself in the other person’s shoes. The holy spirit is ever ready to help me and renew me into a new creature.

No need to beat myself up and bemoan my state of awfulness and pitifulness and grumpiness. Grace awaits for my taking. Grace awaits for my wrong turns.

It’s up to me. I can take a re-do anytime I want.

And each time I do, I am learning and growing. I am resetting my awareness. I am triumphing and changing. One re-step at a time. One 90 degree turn at a time. One two-feet slide at a time.

I am also pleasantly amazing those who live with me. And those who see me reappear at window one as Miss Pleasant.

Let them wonder where Miss Grouchy and Miss Bossy Unpleasant went to.

They say a little mystery makes life more interesting.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important and have a lovely day.

Theresa

 

Join the Discussion: What helps (or what do you do) when you need a re-set?

Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope).  A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Pat and Candy, Messy Marriage, Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth), Missional Women, Sincerely PaulaCrystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), and Lili Dunbar (#FaithOnFire).