Lighten up, Francis



My big buckets for goal-setting are personal, career, and health. These are a helpful way to look at the bigger picture and to make plans, but a recent post on Rowdy Kittens is making me think that there are some life-vitamins that need to be taken every day, in support of general well-being and progress with any goals. The yama and niyama of my yoga practice are good cabinet’s full. One that eludes them, play, is perhaps the one that has been eluding me. Fun is a big part of play, but the difference, I think, is the sense of discovery that is part of some fun. It’s that “wow, the world and this life continue to surprise me” feeling.

In her post, Tammy encourages the reader to consider what we each do to foster a sense of play. I have to admit – I engaged in perhaps just one of these, thinking they were “play” activities. But every single one of them made me smile. Maybe intuitively I knew it was healthy … or maybe I just need to appreciate certain activities for this quality, especially.

  • Trying new recipes, especially ones with unfamiliar ingredients. My forays into vegan cooking are keeping this area busy, both when I do find and use those weird ingredients, and when I make substitutions for them. It was actually kind of fun to blow out the motor on my hand mixer yesterday. If I’d known penuche was gourmandese for “white fudge” I probably wouldn’t have attacked the stuff with such gusto … but there is a certain satisfaction that comes from overwhelming something electric. Ah well. I got about 20 years out of that Black & Decker.
  • The Bloomingdale’s in town is now about to close, and I stumbled into the going-out-of-business sale two weekends ago. Not only were there big discounts on merchandise, but the sales floor fixtures were for sale, as well. These small platoons of same-shaped, same-colored mannequins reminded me of the famed Chinese Terracotta Army. I didn’t hesitate to stop and shoot pictures of them and a few other piles of unwanted mega-perfume bottles and generally ugly, naked furniture. In retrospect, any time that I’m shooting photographs is definitely play, for me.
  • Group fitness classes. Becoming an instructor’s marionette has a certain charm. The improved strength, burned calories, and enjoyable time with fun people are a bonus. Often, yoga classes fall into this category. When I teach them, too.
  • Game night with friends. Also: I do this rarely – but when I do – cheating can be very playful.
  • Gardening. What isn’t fun about getting dirty? And helping a tiny seed grow up big and green?
  • Skiing and snowboarding. Ok, it’s easy to admit that this is play, especially with lots of fresh powder. I’m overdue.
Things I do partly as they are “fun” but that don’t seem to qualify as play, most of the time. They fit into other life-vitamin categories.

The New Terracotta Army

  • Running, if it’s not on trails and/or I’m not inventing my route as I go.
  • Watching movies or television shows at home.
  • Design work rarely seems to be play. This is find disturbing, as it’s my career field. I need to make some adjustments.
  • Surfing the net. Reading blogs, tweeting.
  • Travel. Wow, really? We often get overwhelmed on trips, trying to find the best things to do.

This doesn’t count as play, but as it has brought on almost an hour (in total) of smiling and laughter so far, I need to mention and share it: My husband’s car grew a luxurious, sillky, long tail (he did remove it). It looks a lot like this. We suspected nesting (or a prank) by the squirrels that spend a lot of time in our garage, but sadly, though comfortingly, this happens to a fair number of people. Check out this forum post, this one, and this one. It doesn’t get any less funny, perhaps due to the fact that the darn thing was gorgeous and simply enviable. There was nothing disgusting about it; it was absurd and lovely.

What do you do, as play?