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Want to Play?

What happens during those middle years when so many men and women stop playing? You know the ones, they walk around with this serious look on their face, some even showing a look of disdain on their face if your "happy" gets to close.

I don't ever want to stop playing. Maybe it's the Aries child in me, maybe it's what they call "being a kid at heart", but yesterday, I had the best time playing with a photographer on the beaches of Maui. I suddenly found myself skipping, leaping in the air, and splashing in the water as Lance danced around me with his camera. I even climbed a tree with my cowboy boots on shouting as I jumped off one of the low branches. The little child within was so very happy! She's still there within me, ready to engage in whimsical activities that elicit giggles.

And all this began because I needed some photos for my upcoming book,

THE HEROINE'S JOURNEY: in my quest to heal Lyme disease, I discovered who I AM.

As I contemplate my journey back to wellness after my four and a half year battle with the horrific symptoms of Lyme disease, I recall the times thought out life when I became too serious, like the times when I had deadlines to meet for grad courses or Sunday mornings when I sat in the pew of the local church teaching my children how to "act" in church. Even as an elementary school teacher, there were many times when "play" was forbidden. As I look back at various times in my life I can see where I too had forgotten to play. I too was one of "those" stodgy serious type that stopped playing? I allowed life, and becoming a responsible adult, to keep me from play. And worse yet, I allowed "play" to be taken from me where it was needed most, in an elementary school classroom.

And then I wonder to myself... did the lack of play in my life contribute to the four and a half years with Lyme disease? Did it keep wellness at bay? Could I have gotten better, healed of the dis~ease in my body, if I had played more? These thoughts often run through my mind, how the simple activities we engage in can bring greater health... or sickness. And then silly me, the child within says, "yeah, becoming an adult can be a health hazard."

Typical of my mind of late, I research "Health benefits of play for adults" and of course I find articles that confirm play (from the online dictionary, "Play: an activity one engages in for mere enjoyment and recreation rather than for a serious or practical purpose") as an immune booster. Play reduces stress! Play improves heart and lung function. Play stimulates the mind and improves brain function. Play fosters creativity. Play increases your emotional well being. Medical journals and science journals alike boast of the health benefits of play. So... why not add more play into your life! Your health is too important to allow "adulthood" to weaken you. YOU are too important to let anything stand in the way of your health. Want to play? Are YOU ready to take back your life?

MY top 10 ways to add play back into our lives:

1. Hire a photographer and go to your favorite outdoor destination and play with him (or her).

2. Get involved in an improv class (lots of laughter here!)

3. Gather your family and friends and go out dancing.

4. Take up a new hobby (surf anyone? ... horseback riding?... crossword puzzles?)

5. Play a game of Jenga or other board game

6. Gather some markers or colorful pens and write a letter to someone using lots of color

7. Get a tennis ball or frisbee and go to a dog park and ask to play with someone's dog.

8. Drive to a local beach and grab some rock and see how many times you can skip a rock on top of the water (for each skip, say something you are grateful for).

9. Buy a hula hoop and stand in your driveway or backyard and allow your neighbors to watch. You just might encourage another adult to play! And it's good exercise!

10. Turn on some music and dance around your house with a broomstick in hand pretending your the next Patrick Swayze.

What are some of YOUR favorite ways to incorporate play into our life? Please do tell!

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