Serenity Saturday

Reconnect with Your Playful Self

Shouldering the responsibilities of an adult can get awfully heavy sometimes. Going to work, paying bills, taking care of others…the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder that we hate adultism! When was the last time you took a day out to play, not in the grown up way but in a way that allows you to reconnect with your playful self?

It’s such a beautiful day! The sun’s up, there’s a cool gentle breeze, and spring is in the air! Come with me, let’s play pretend. Grab your shoes! Let’s go for a walk down memory lane. Remember when you were a kid and you lived for the days when you didn’t have school? Imagine that you’re back at your favorite age and doing your favorite things! What will you do today? Will you kick off your shoes and race barefoot through the grass? Or will you climb to the top of the giant slide and gleefully glide down? Will you play dress up with your best friends and spend the day at the mall, or will you hang out in the neighborhood and play tag football?

A couple of years ago I was at a neighborhood park watching the kids play. I saw a mother with a small boy. She stood dutifully at the bottom of the slide and encouraged him as he climbed the steps to the top. As he prepared to slide down he raised his arms high toward the sky and screamed, “Wheeeeeeee!” He was having so much fun! As I stared at him I found myself thinking “That looks like so much fun. When did I stop playing on slides? When did I stop honoring my playful inner child?”

I saw myself in the behavior of the mother and realized that at some point—probably after I gave birth to my son—I began to think that being an adult meant I couldn’t play anymore. The funny thing about it is that I don’t remember anyone telling me this; rather, I think I just mimicked the collective behavior of others. I saw adults pushing children in swings but not swinging with them; standing at the bottom of slides and waiting for their children to come down but not sliding down with them; encouraging children to run but not running with them. The message, though unspoken, was loud and clear: “Adults supervise, they don’t play! That’s childish!” Society had spoken and I had responded by allowing the playful child within me to die.

I made a vow that day as I watched that mother standing at the foot of the slide waiting for her son to come down. I vowed to walk barefoot in the grass, to swing in the swings, and glide down the slide. Initially I felt a little silly but the more I did it, the more I liked it, and the happier I became. Pretty soon I had reconnected with my little girl—the one who loved swinging in the swings, twisting first to the left then to the right, dragging her feet in the sand. I was energized, I felt so alive, and I enjoyed doing it!

My favorite physical activity is distance walking. My favorite hobbies are jewelry-making and playing the Native American flute. My favorite outdoor space is a nature park in North Georgia. I go there often to spend time with my friends, play the flute, swing in the swings, and walk along the river. It is a wonderful place for socializing and also has tables where I can sit alone and meditate.

When was the last time you connected with your inner child—you know, the one with the playful nature? Commit today to honor your divine self. The benefits are amazing! Enjoy the high that can only come from hanging out with loved ones and playing in the sun. Relish the inner peace that can only come from kicking off your shoes and communing with nature. Listen to the trees speak to each other as the gentle breeze ruffles the still budding leaves. Allow the energy from the river to shift your mood, lift your anxiety or depression, and revitalize your spirit. Walk, dance, move! Swing in the swings, glide down the slide, and run until your heart is contented! Remember that accepting adult responsibilities is an important part of our journey; however, life is multi-dimensional. Let go of the heavy coat of adultism and joyfully embrace your playful inner child today.  

Blessings & Peace.
Dr. Sue