What was your favorite toy as a child?

February 3, 2009 at 9:15 pm | Posted in Play | Leave a comment
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Maybe my old clamp-on roller skates are rusting away in a corner of my mother’s garage. I don’t know. They definitely saw lots of action when I was 7, 8, 9 years old. I always used to try and wear my skates with my tennis shoes, which never worked very well because there wasn’t any hard edge for the skates to fasten to. My scuffed-up saddle shoes were the best.

Somewhere in my mom’s home movie collection (remember those hulking 8 mm cameras?) there’s some footage of me rollerskating downhill with my cousins, my 2 long braids swinging in rhythm with the big skate key around my neck, my tongue sticking out of one side of my mouth as I labored to stay upright. I was not terribly athletic but I loved to skate!

All these skating memories came up for me recently when I received an electronic questionnaire called the “2009 Girlfriends Survey.” You may have gotten it, asking about 57 little-known details about your life, like “What’s your favorite candy?” and “Do you wish on stars?” The question that generated the most enthusiastic response, by far, from my friends was “What was your favorite toy as a child?”

That’s what I’d love to hear to hear about from you today — What was your favorite toy as a child? Feel free to be as descriptive as you like.


Go outside and play!

April 8, 2008 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Play | 4 Comments
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“My dream is . . . “
“The thing I’m afraid to discover about my dream is . . . “
“If I actualize my dream, it will mean . . . “

These are the opening questions on one of the tools I generally ask my clients to complete in the first couple months of the Authentic Life process. For various reasons it’s not unusual for many people to feel unprepared to answer . . . but I think there’s one element that may make these questions seem especially challenging —

We’ve forgotten how to play. Or, perhaps, we never had a chance to learn.

A recent National Public Radio story by Alix Spiegel (“Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills”) reports on the negative effects on today’s children of limited or non-existent time for imaginative play. The kind of activity where kids have the freedom to create make-believe worlds, where they regulate their own play and make up their own rules.

You may have grown up being generously encouraged to play. Or you may have had little time to simply goof off because you were needed to work around the house, the yard, the family business, your church, or to care for family members. Much of your childhood may have been spent performing in sports or academic or beauty contests or, perhaps, you were busy with homework and lots of special classes and lessons.

Take a look at the pace of your adult life today. If you feel you’re always on the go without a moment to “play” (or relax or reflect or dream about what comes next in your life), ask yourself if your current choices are a continuation of choices that were made a long time ago.

As Spiegel notes, imaginative play fosters “concentration, effort, problem-solving, and task success” for children. Doesn’t it make sense that the same would be true for adults?

Good. Now go outside and play!

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Get your ya-ya’s out – it’s play time!

November 21, 2007 at 6:53 pm | Posted in Play | 2 Comments
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little-wolf.png“Little Wolf” is the name of the magical house and wild mountain acreage owned by my cousin Susan, her husband, and members of his family. Isolated amid conifers and madrone high above the Klamath River in northern California, Little Wolf is a sanctuary for those seeking simplicity. I returned to Phoenix late last week after spending 5 days at Little Wolf . . . and by now I’ve almost made the shift from spontaneous wilderness time to my more structured urban agenda.

This is the third fall season I’ve visited Susan at Little Wolf. Susan’s sister, Lindy, also flew out this year from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The three of us share similar life passions and spiritual awareness, and during our get-away time we talked about everything under the sun, from our children, to creative destiny, to sex. We also hiked in the woods, read, sang, slept in late, baked a pumpkin pie, prayed, worked with clay, drank wine, and swapped stories by the fire. We giggled like school girls and laughed — a lot! Laughed so hard our stomachs ached. In short, we played together.

easusan.pngOn our last morning we reflected on what our most meaningful take-aways would be from this year’s Little Wolf experience. Lindy began with, “Peace, fulfillment, rest.” Susan added, “A more open approach to community.” I said, “A reminder to create time for active play.”

For me, active play means more than relaxing or taking part in sports activities. It’s about seeking interests we choose to practice or discover for the pure, exhilarating, participatory fun of it. There’s an element of learning in it and also a willingness to release anxiety about a particular pursuit being embarrassing, weird, or overly difficult.

easusanlindy.pngEmbracing active play starts with identifying elements that, perhaps, we’ve always thought sounded appealing but (for a hundred different reasons) have never given a try. What do you think might energize you or get you laughing so uproariously that the tears stream down your face? Here are some of the active play ideas I’m considering for myself as well as for my husband and myself:

* Classes in gourmet cooking, home decorating, desert landscaping, pottery-making, jewelry-making, western swing dancing (this last one makes me nervous but at the same time, I can see it being really fun)

* Hiking or rafting trips in all the U.S. national parks, shorter local hiking trips

* Bed-and-breakfast hopping

* Singing in a folk or bluegrass group

What are some of the things you already do or that you’d like to do for “active play,” to get your ya-ya’s out?

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