“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
We look to others who seem free and full of life, playfulness and creativity, with a longing, hopeful heart. And yet we stand here, arms upon our hips, rigid and firm, struggling in pain to hold tight onto an identity that doesn't quite fit.
If we so deeply feel the urge to let it all go, to dance in the rain, to feel the wind upon our face, to dip our fingers into the paint… why do we still stand here, pretending to value our nicely kept homes and hard work over our joy?
I know you can feel deep down how much you NEED creativity in your life. How much you NEED to just let loose and express yourself. Many of you have told me.
And yet, here we still sit. Letting our minds hold onto this rigidness and fear. And I say WE, because yes, I too feel this struggle day after day… even after years of honoring my creativity.
Our minds are funny that way… we can see the value in play and creativity, we feel the need to create; and yet our minds tell us we can't. There's too much risk, we're not good enough, we have too much work to do.
We're stuck between two worlds.
Society has shaped exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth; yet recent studies are showing us that play and rest are essential. Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist and clinical researcher, argues that play is not an option.
He writes, "The opposite of play is not work - the opposite of play is depression."
There's a part of us that knows this is true. Yet there's another part of us who still wants to fit in to the norm, to prove our self-worth through societal standards. We are stuck in between, and don't know which way to turn.
But should we stay here, refusing to choose? NO. Our refusal to choose joy for ourselves right now in this moment, is our refusal to help shift our society into a new way of living that matches our beliefs.
It's time to act on our belief that we need rest, that we need play, that we need creativity, that we need JOY.
Not only for ourselves, but for our children, for our community, for our world. We have seen enough pain and suffering. We've been feeling the confusion and doubt and uncertainty all around us. And yeah, there's a part of me who just wants to crumble beneath it all. And still, there's another part of me who wants to rise up and embrace the beauty and wonder and joy in this world… because I know creativity and play are powerful healers.
It's time to shake loose my friend! Wiggle those fingers. Wiggle those arms. Roll your shoulders. Start to sway from side to side. Let the wiggles roll through your entire being! It's time to consciously choose joy, one moment at a time.
Let us not wait until the day that permission is handed to us on a silver platter. Let us choose it NOW and help spread the word.
Your mind will fight against it. But what I've learned, is that the more I choose play and joy and creativity, the more I remember that letting go will not undo me. The more I remember that this is what fills me up. This is what allows me to be even more productive. Allows me to love more. LIVE MORE.
Our letting go will not undo us. Let us prove our minds wrong, one baby step at a time.
Are you ready to say YES!?
Here's eight easy ways to start saying yes to play and creativity (and start proving to your mind that there's nothing to fear!)
#1. Make it a habit to doodle on the foggy mirror with your finger after every shower.
#2. Spend some time with young children - kids are masters at play and creativity, let them lead the way!
#3. Challenge yourself to do a little doodle each day - I'm in love with the book Year of the Doodle by Dawn Sokol! I can't always remember to do it everyday, but when I do I don't beat myself up for forgetting and I play quickly without worrying about what it looks like.
#4. Head out for a walk or day trip without a plan. Keep an open, curious mind and see what you can discover!
#5. Start super small. For example, if you're called towards art journaling or another creative act that feels huge and overwhelming, start by practicing showing up and committing to just one minute of play with paints or crayons.
#6. Keep a brain-dump journal, or start what Julie Cameron calls "morning pages" - simply free write anything that crosses your mind without judgement. Don't over think it, just write and spill everything out onto the page.
#7. Play with movement throughout your day - skip, swing your arms, twirl around… Have you ever noticed how children move about so freely in their world!?
#8. Join a supportive class or community to create with, such as Creative Soul Roots where we'll be learning how to deal with our doubting/judging mind and stretching our play muscles!
Just remember: Take baby steps. Be gentle with yourself. Practice showing up for play at least once a day, if even just for a minute. Why not THIS minute? I know you can do it!
Much love to you!!
P.S. Don't forget to share this with your friends! Let's unite. Let's stand together. Let's Play!!
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Vee Zellers says
I loved today’s blog…enough-of- the- nonsense…
RESOLVED: I WILL play today.
I WILL use the paint that are waiting for me.
I WILL put my colorful pen marks in at least 1 of my many journals.
I Have already written a quote in my journal of quotes.
I HAVE already wiggled my body with some exercise.
I HAVE made my mind play by writing and commenting this to you.
Kristal Norton says
Yay! Thank you so much for jumping into this call for action with such enthusiasm Vee!! You are one of the PLAY warriors by my side! :D
Wow! That quote: “The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression.” As someone who has been a perfectionist and an over-achiever my whole life AND paid for it with two hospitilizations due to stress overwhelm, anxiety, and depression, that quote hit me like a ton of bricks. Thank you for your post. I definately got the message :)