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There’s not enough time in my life to explore everything that interests me, but I’m reading, listening, watching, and learning all I can.
In preparation for January’s Play Project, I read all of Dr. Stuart Brown’s book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. His expertise and enthusiasm convince me even more to incorporate play into every day, in some small way.
I have found that remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives are probably the most important factors in being a fulfilled human being. The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person. (6)
He assures those who scoff at the thought of active play in the life of an adult, “We don’t need to play all the time to be fulfilled. The truth is that in most cases, play is a catalyst. The beneficial effects of getting just a little true play can spread throughout our lives, actually making us more productive and happier in everything we do” (7).
This motivated me to find “just a little true play” for each day of the month ahead—the Play Project doesn’t have to involve week-long endeavors or all-day outings. Even the tiniest break in the day can open up a few minutes to do one word search, color just a few areas in a coloring book, or take a single snapshot.
The consequences of eliminating play from our busy days that carry such weight of responsibility lead to us being stuck in our ways. Dr. Brown writes:
If we stop playing, we share the fate of all animals that grow out of play. Our behavior becomes fixed. We are not interested in new and different things. We find fewer opportunities to take pleasure in the world around us. (71)
To avoid becoming fixed in your behavior, get up and move. Try something new. Play.
Not long ago, I watched Dick Van Dyke stay playful, dancing and moving and laughing:
In an NPR interview, he advises:
Oh yeah they caught me tap dancing out here in the lobby here – nice marble floor. Everyone should dance. And everyone should sing. People say, “Well, I can’t sing.” Everybody can sing. That you do it badly is no reason not to sing….The point is to enjoy. You have to pick what you enjoy doing, what fulfills you, what interests you….almost anyone can find that one immersing hobby or pastime that they love to do.
Tap dancing in the lobby, singing, laughing…Dick Van Dyke is Exhibit A, supporting Dr. Stuart Brown’s conclusion:
Play is how we are made, how we develop and adjust to change. It can foster innovation and lead to multibillion-dollar fortunes. But in the end the most significant aspect of play is that it allows us to express our joy and connect most deeply with the best in ourselves, and in others. If your life has become barren, play brings it to life again. (218)
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One of my goals is to enjoy and curate good content to share on my Facebook page and Twitter feed. The more I’ve been doing this, the more Twitter has become the primary place I’m sharing a lot of interesting stuff, so scroll through for snippets and teasers to see if something catches your eye.
As you can see from the Learn section, I read the book Play, by Dr. Stuart Brown. I’m happy to have discovered the downloadable Kindle books available for free on loan for 14 days from my local library and read a short book that interested me. I also received an English Standard Version (ESV) Bible for Christmas and started the One-Year Bible reading plan, which I’ve done in years past and decided to commit to in 2016.
Finally, I highlighted the last few chapters of Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir with questions for you to ponder as you read. Here’s the full collection, all the way to the end:
- Chapters 1-3
- Chapters 4-6
- Chapters 7-9
- Chapters 10-12
- Chapters 13-15
- Chapters 16-18
- Chapters 19-21
- Chapters 22-24
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Tweetspeak Poetry has provided us with “12 Days of Form Poetry, Prompts, and Playlists,” a fun and playful approach to our writing. To add a more playful approach to my writing, I want to add some fun writing activities outside of my normal writing goals and assignments. For starters, I might try a Catalog Poem.
And on this first day of 2016, I believe I’ll revisit some New Year’s poems curated by the Tweetspeak editorial team at the start of last year. By reading poetry, I hope to remind myself to write concisely—and gain models for how to do so.
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Play is the focus of the month ahead, and I have to say that even thinking up ideas and offering worksheets for readers has been fun for me. Someone sent me a crochet pattern for a scarf I might at least start, and I bought my word search and coloring books, so I’m ready for some simple fun.
Want some ideas? Look what Bethany R is planning:
— BethanyR (@BethanyR__) December 30, 2015
See how she’s going to explore new perfumes? That’s not time consuming or involved—she can do that when she’s out shopping for other things, so let Bethany’s list remind you this doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, time-consuming, or involve teams of people. A quick spritz at CVS when you’re picking up toothpaste and you’ve done something playful.
In the weeks ahead I’ll be posting round-ups of some of the #PlayProject activities I find on social media, along with additional inspiration and ideas (and maybe a few examples from my own life).
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I mentioned in a previous post and podcast that I plan to try archery. Another activity I’d like to try is to light and release some Chinese lanterns. All month, I’ll be trying playful ideas to see what can fulfill Brown’s definition of play: “an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time. It is also self-motivating and makes you want to do it again” (60).
Please join me in trying out ideas for play. Share your experiences and experiments through social media using the hashtag #PlayProject (especially on Twitter) so we can find each other, to celebrate and support what everyone is attempting. Tag me if there is space in the update, so I can slip over and see what you’re up to!
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Still listening to a few podcasts, and now that I understand what I have access to through my library, I’m going to look into downloading some audio books. I’ll have to start listening to some fun and playful music. Any suggestions?
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I’ve always valued, even nurtured, a healthy, holy curiosity that tends to stretch me, surprise me, and lead me to a more creative and productive life. Tracking the month’s curiosity discoveries reminds me to stay open, ask questions, try new things, play, and pass along my discoveries to others.
Source: Brown, Stuart L., and Christopher C. Vaughan. Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. New York: Avery, 2009. Print.
Images with words created by Isabelle Kroeker.