As an adult, play has always been elusive. There have been many New Year’s Days when I have set an intention to play more.
When I talked about one of the reasons I was drawn to work with D after we moved to Maryland, I noticed that I shared that we did many fun things together. Maybe that was one of the draws.
I remember one time when I was trying to reconnect with play. I made a list of all of the things I loved to do as a child. The things that made me forgot time and took me to a place of pure exhilaration and joy. I admit those times were few and far between, even as a child, yet I wanted that feeling back.
I recognized that in order to play in this way, I needed to be present. I began to make the connection between presence and play.
Some of the things that took me to a place of utter joy as a child was ice skating, sledding, roller skating, ballet, coloring, (outside the lines), and swimming. Later I enjoyed dancing, drawing, being outside, playing tennis, and cooking.
Ice skating was the easiest thing to connect with because I did it just about every day after school in the winter. Our park had a huge ice skating rink, and I loved to skate more than anything else. About 6 years ago I decided I wanted to ice skate again. I was 63, and part of me was afraid that I was pushing fate to get back on skates after not doing so for a very long time. We lived in Raleigh at the time, so I found an indoor rink, and I went ice skating again. It was exhilarating and fun! It took me a while to feel steady on the skates, yet I did. After that I knew that it was possible to play again.
In my quest to have fun since then I have done ballroom dancing with Dan, stand up paddle boarding, collaging, tennis, cooking, yoga, and kayaking.
I’ve also changed my wardrobe to be more in alignment with who I am, and I’m wearing more colors in new ways. I’ve added purple and blue highlights to my hair. All of these things connect me back to myself, and help me to live my best life.
My latest entry into play is Arya. Play is her primary way to interact with the world. It’s how she learns about her relationship to everything, And she is so eager to invite me into her world.
Despite all of these examples, play does not come easily to me. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. I schedule in as a part of my self-care. I used to think play needed to be spontaneous to be real play. And if I couldn’t be spontaneous, I couldn’t play.
I’ve decided that scheduled play is better than no play, and once I’m engaged, I and playing, it doesn’t matter if it was spontaneous or not.
Learning to play again is one of the gifts of my grief journey.
It I hadn’t said yes to meeting my grief the way that I did I would not have been able to feel the joy of play, my own, or my granddaughter’s.