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This Is Your Invitation To Allow Play Into Your Life

As an adult, this still feels so vulnerable to ask.

Will you play with me?

 I believe this is one of, if not the most sacred, questions of our lives. It is asking, Will you have fun with me? Will you enjoy this experience or time with me? Will you simply be here with me?  

“Will you play with me?” is the ultimate invitation.  In this life that is filled with so many obligations and things that need to be taken care of, we have lost our sense of wonder and play as a collective.  It is nothing to berate ourselves about.  Life is hard.  There are many things that require work, grit, and focus.  The last two years, we have experienced another layer of fear, sickness, and division.  We are aching.  Aching with wounds and trepidation. Aching for release, relief, and renewal.  

It is important to sit with and notice all that is present.  To let it trickle into our awareness slowly and deliberately.  We want to validate the grief and validate the true need for fun, joy, celebration, and companionship.  This fall, I have found myself practicing and dancing with past forms of welcoming play into my life.

Over the years, I have engaged in a lot of healing through trauma work, and the most valuable has been allowing curiosity to lead me and lift me.  Play has allowed me to integrate and release painful times in my life.  I believe play is essential to our overall well being.  Many forms of play are fully embodied and make space in our brains and souls for creativity.  Lately, I have been going on walks outside and curtsying to the trees, bowing to the flowers, taking a branch hand gently and introducing myself.  It can feel strange to do these things, but it also brings an awkward laugh and a component of acceptance that the world really can be viewed and lived in differently.  

Years ago, when I was first building a relationship with play again as an adult, I would write myself invitations to playdates, put them in an envelope with a stamp, and then drop them at the post office to mail to myself.  Putting the same address for send and return made me laugh too.  I would invite myself to swing at the park or go get ice cream or color inside.  The act of inviting became fun and intentional.  How often do we forget to invite ourselves to participate in the fun instead of only facilitating the space of fun for those we love?  Following through on those playdate invitations and spending that quality time alone doing something I loved or doing something simple or new built trust in myself.

My journey is to be my own best friend.  It isn’t easy all the time, and I still need and want other people.  Due to a childhood full of trauma, it took years to feel like I was real and worthy of stability.  I realized along the way the greatest loss in this life to me would be a loss of myself.  I am the only one who goes through every day with me, and I would like to know the compassion and joy of my own company.  It became vital to play again.

During the same time that I was sending myself playdate invites, I was doing many other things.  I went fully into this practice, really reclaiming safety in play and exploring this inner child wisdom.  There were bubble baths with a tiara on, tea parties with old stuffed animals I dug out of storage, writing fiction stories about squirrels, dancing to my iPod on forest trails, doing yoga in the woods with snow, hiking barefoot in nice weather, skipping in and out of the stores while running errands, and painting on cardboard saved from amazon orders.  

This was the time I began writing poetry fervently.  It just began pouring out of me.  I went to the library and found a poetry reading not too far away and started reading my poems barefoot on stage.  I then read the poems to myself in the mirror and wrote encouraging words in mirror markers.  My roommate became the recipient of kind notes under her door, little gifts with bubbles and other items I knew she would love.  We had dinners where we cooked pancakes filled with blueberries and bananas and sometimes chocolate chips.  She taught me how to weave flowers into crowns and bracelets.  My relationship with play began to include everyone in my life.  Working at an elementary school reinforced how important and crucial playing was, and I wove flower crowns on recess for the students that wanted them, played basketball, made up dances with them, sang Disney songs, and had plastic dinosaurs talk.  

As time passed, my students came to me with fears, worries, and hardships at home.  I strongly believe the impact I made was because they invited me to play with them and I accepted and followed through.  Accepting invitations and following through builds trust of course, but what deepens it is the time, attention, and joy.  

This fall, I am seeking old familiar ideas in my toolbox and gathering new ones as well.  It has been a long, hard two years, and I think most of us have done our best to survive and even find appreciation.  But with the holidays coming, there is that lingering stress that comes with expectation and being in close quarters.  I just wanted to write to you about how important playing is.  How essential it is.  Be compassionate about where you are regarding joy and play.  There is no perfect.  Meet yourself where you are, even making a small shift or seeing what you already do and giving credit builds foundations.

The soul of playing is invitation.  You never really have to, but what would it be like to start to play again?  Nature is a constant invitation to play.  I believe it is an anchor to what we are alive for, to create, build, and play.

I care about our well being.

I always say nurture your wild, nourish your seasons.  Play looks different depending on where you are, what is going on, and the time of your life. You are not alone.  Look to those who love you—are they inviting you into joy somehow?  Are there ideas you may borrow from movies, art, or online to build this relationship?

Delight in yourself; let us cherish the gifts that we have right before us.

Will you play? 

This is your invitation.