Growing up in Kelowna was like heaven on earth.
As a child, there was no greater playground to run wild and free. Down to the lake in the summer for a day of swimming and laughter, out into the snow in winter to spend hours making a snowman or throwing snowballs at my sisters.
We never seemed to run out of things to do and none of them cost any money. I am giving this some thought as my husband and I are heading off for a weekend of down time together after a couple of months of a very heavy workload. There has not been much time for frivolous play in my life of late and as I pack my bag, I want to throw in a bit of carefree abandon to take with me on our journey.
To play is to engage in an activity just for the fun of it, just for the excitement and stimulation of it. When you’re playing, you’re fully absorbed in what you are doing, right here and right now, and anything you do in a playful spirit, even if it’s work, puts you into a pleasurable flow.
People who make a living being creative know that you have to tackle a project in the spirit of play to enlist the imagination and get in touch with your originality. To let your creativity and unique artistry come through your whole being can be a surprisingly delightful adventure.
As we enlist our inner artist into expression, sometimes our inner critic comes along for the ride. It seems that these two expressive traits are joined at the hip and when you invite one, you get both. Sometimes we need to practice giving our imaginations the reins and firming telling our inner critic to take a back seat and please be quiet! This is what re-imagining later life is all about.
Play doesn’t even have to have a creative purpose. It can be just plain, purposeless fun. Some of the simplest pleasures are when we are just hanging out with people we love, making something with our hands or simply enjoying the beauty of a walk on a warm, sunny day.
Author Stella Resnick offers six ideas to explore play and creativity in her book, The Pleasure Zone.
1. Breathe life into your artist. Take a few minutes every day for spontaneous creativity. First focus your energy with breath control. Take three cleansing breaths—long inhales through your nose all the way to the top of your chest, then blow out through slightly puckered lips all the way down to the very bottom of your exhale. See if there is any tension in your body and stretch to release that tension. Now doodle on a note pad for a few moments, to keep your creative wheels greased.
2. Write a few paragraphs on the following theme: “If I had the courage to do it, I would……..” Your little essay could be symbolic or literal, fiction or fact. Get your inner critic out of the process. Critics are spoilsports. “First thought, best thought” is a suggestion posed by Jack Kerouac on writing.
3. A special exercise for procrastinators: Say you need to get something done that you have been postponing because you either hate doing it or, underneath it all, you just don’t feel you’re going to do a good enough job. Approach it as an opportunity to be playful. Take a few cleansing breaths, a few deep sighs, and tell yourself to “have fun with it”. Then do just that.
4. A special exercise for lovers: Take yourselves out on a date where each one of you is playing a particularly wonderful and fun-loving alter-ego. It could be Gracie and George Burns, Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in the Way You Were (my personal favorite) or Lucy and Desi. Play, laugh, entertain each other, and be romantically provocative. If you get into a disagreement, see if you can lighten up and fight like your whimsical alter-egos.
5. Find your own means of artistic expression. Write a poem, tell a joke, dance to a tune on the radio, sing with attitude to a friend, play house with a child, make a present for a sick neighbour, draw your own greeting card for a relative, or play at romance with your lover/spouse.
And remember, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” Now go out and have some fun.
Marjorie Horne is the owner of CareSmart Seniors Consulting and host of the Engaging in Aging Radio Show on AM1150 every Sunday at 9 a.m. Visit www.caresmart.ca.
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