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Guidepost #7: cultivating play and rest

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Interestingly enough, I got to this chapter of "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" by Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW, the day after my trip to the Pumpkin Patch with my non-Sparking friend Gerri - almost two weeks ago. And then I got stuck in the next chapter.

But this particular guidepost got me back in a mind-set that I'd encountered years ago when I was working through anxiety issues with a therapist. I don't remember how exactly it came up, in what order, but it became a kind of personal mantra for a while to live as I would as a six year old.

If you had a happy childhood (and I did), six years old was a great age. You were old enough to be actively engaged in learning, school, and swim lessons, and somewhat responsible. But still, under the rule and protection of a power greater than yourself... your loving parents. OK, your parents weren't perfect, perhaps you learned later, but at six, and feeling loved, you counted on them and thus were exempted from the cares of the world.

Anyway, it's a model that doesn't work for EVERYONE, but it worked well for me. If the news is troubling, your parents would probably have turned it off. Guess what? You can, too!

If you had a bad dream, your parents assured you that's all it was. A dream. You had a bedtime, and stuck with it, with a parental prod, and chances are, you fell asleep pretty easily, too.

You didn't have to budget for yourself, although your parents limited your access to things not so good for you. I doubt many of us had unlimited candy or ice cream!

And we PLAYED! We went outside and climbed trees, dug forts in the snow. We had "tea parties" on grandma's screened in porch during summer visits. We made hollyhock dolls with toothpicks to hold them together. We learned to keep score at board games. We ran around and tossed balls, made up adventures, etc. with no particular purpose in mind other than to entertain ourselves.

OK, so now we have to adult. Some of us more than others. Even retirement isn't endless play... we have to do the chores around the house, pay the bills, renew pet licenses, feed those pets and take them to the vet. We have things we must do. But we also need to make time for play, for that playful spirit that sparks joy in our hearts.

We may not roll in the dirt... we might "play" by just going for a walk or having lunch with a friend. The important thing is keeping an attitude of fun in it. Go see a baseball game in the park (youth sports are free). Go to a concert... a lot of those are free, too. If you can afford a ticket or two, that's fine, but one can have fun on a budget. Libraries... reading fiction for fun! So many options.

Play, says Brown, is apparently purposeless. It's doing things because we thinki it's fun and we want to. If we're not already doing so, let's make sure to include some of those things... including unscheduled time... to have a wholehearted life.

It's the weekend... a perfect time to squeeze for a bit of guilt-free FUN, i.e. play! Here's hoping your Saturday, October 19, 2019 has some in it, because you're worth it. emoticon emoticon
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