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The Power of Play

Play

As adults, we often forget to play. Perhaps we don’t realize just how important play is for our health and happiness.

When was the last time your sat in a swing and challenged your child to see who could swing the highest? Or, built a sandcastle at the beach? Or, colored with pencils or crayons for the sheer joy of it?

 

One of my favorite things to do is play tag with my grandkids. By the end we are all laughing and, after I’ve rediscovered my breath, we are ready to go again.

According to helpguide.org, play has several benefits:

Play can:

Relieve stress. It’s hard to hold onto all of your cares when you let yourself play.

Improve Brain Function. Play is a natural part of our development, which doesn’t quit because we have become adults. We need to keep our brain in shape as this is the case of ‘use it or lose it.’

Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. When we stop playing, we often stop creating. Get your groove back by finding ways to play in your life.

Improve relationships and your connectivity to others. Perhaps the adage is true, the couple (or friends, family, etc.) that plays together stays together. Find ways to have fun together.

Keeps you feeling young and energetic. I firmly believe when we stop having fun we get old. I also believe that about learning, but that is fun for me, most of the time.

Some ideas to help you begin to play:

  • Games – the ones you sit face to face with people, not the online kind.
  • Coloring
  • Art projects
  • Find some of your old games and toys from when you were a child. One of my favorites is Pick-up-Sticks. I found the game on one of my travels though you can find in many toy stores.
  • Outdoor games. Fly a kite, throw a frisbee, splash in the water, the possibilities are endless.
  • Blow bubbles. Bubbles are fun to do anywhere (yes, including inside the house, it’s just soap after all). Blowing bubbles outside in the winter is fabulous because the bubbles can freeze and are iridescent before they burst into pieces.
  • Dance
  • Doodle – If you struggle with this and need some structure, check out Zentangle.
  • Have a water fight.
  • Sing – it doesn’t matter if you are good or not if you sing in the shower or car no one can hear you anyway.
  • Finger paint
  • Spend some time with a kid exploring their imagination.

It’s easy to get caught up in all your “adult” responsibilities but if you want to find that spark that keeps you young, find some time to add play into your life. Play doesn’t have to end with childhood. The key is to find what works for you.

A recent discovery for me to relax and play is to color mandalas. You can pick up these adult coloring books anywhere, and I would encourage you to pick one up. Mandala’s can be meditative and healing. Not to mention there is no one to tell you to stay in the lines.

Leave a comment with your favorite way to play.

Morning Nest Building

Morning Nest Building

This morning I watched a small bird strip bark off a cedar pole for its nest and was, once again, reminded of Wendell Berry’s poem, Peace of Wild Things. Here are his words:

 

Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

I hope you are enjoying the return of the sun and longer days. And, I hope you take the time to enjoy the peace found in nature.

Lost in the Memories

Rembrance
Looking for hope.

Swamped by Memories

Have you ever had a week where your memories completely overwhelmed you? One of those weeks where you functioned on autopilot, only doing those things you needed to do since your brain is occupied elsewhere?

I did, recently. I’d been working on some issues from my past that seemed to be affecting my future, and I got stuck. For me being stuck means my creativity is affected, and I become hard on myself. My inner critic appears to go into hyperdrive, and I struggle to break free.

During this struggle to break free, I find myself looking for ways to help alleviate the emotional pain and discover the motivation to work again. It’s not easy to ensure that the memories no longer have power but that is the goal.

Some things that have worked are:

1. Don’t fight the memories. If the memories appear to be taking over, let them – if only for a few minutes. They won’t last, and fighting seems to give them more power. Memories with power are the last thing you want.

2. Write them out. Journaling is a good way to release all of the emotion that is attached to memories. Sometimes the very act of writing can change your brain to help you heal.

3. Find a place of non-judgement. Memories are something in our past that can have an effect on the future. There is nothing we can do to change them. Judgment, i.e. good vs. bad, can give power to memories and will affect your emotions. Accept the memory just as it is, and you can get past it.

4. Find a trusted person to share the memory. Finding that person is more difficult than it would seem because not every person is capable of handling the more difficult memories. And, not every person is someone to be trusted. At times, seeking a therapist may be the best option, and they have the training to help you process your past.

5. If you are a creative, set a goal and stick to it. During the middle of stuckness, setting a goal of a 15-minute free write or 500 words each day, regardless of the content will help keep your creative juices flowing. Sticking with the habit in spite of where your emotional life will help keep your inner critics at bay.

Freeing ourselves from old, painful memories is possible, though most likely difficult. A lot of things can get in the way of your creative life, and just life in general, but you can overcome to find healing. It takes time and patience, and often a bit of help.

Healing is just another step in finding your intentional life.

For other tips on living an intentional life, check out the rest of my posts.

Best Advice Ever – Don’t Quit

 

Though I am a day late with my post, I wanted to share this little poem that has the best advice I’ve ever seen:

Don’t Quit

by John Greenleaf Whittier

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

This poem is in the public domain.

 
Today, would have been my brother’s 52nd birthday and the message of this poem is exactly what I needed to hear. I hope you find some encouragement in the words.

Time for another #365 Project Update

It’s that time of the week when I share how my #365 project has been moving along. I’ve been attempting to use my camera every day, capturing moments and sharing them with the world. It hasn’t always been easy and I haven’t managed every day but I’m still plugging away.

I like the idea of sticking with a project for an entire year, especially for someone who struggles with follow thru. I tend to give up easily when something takes a lot of time. It’s just so easy to do but I’m not giving up on this one.

Here is what captured my attention this past week:

 

Novel in Progress
Lake in Spring #1
Lake in Spring #2
Spring! What???
Oh, there you are, Spring!

Someone asked me this week about a #365 Project and the only one I really knew about is posting photo’s online. Are there any more out there?

Here is last week’s post:

#365 Project

Journeys Begin With a Single Step

 

It seems that I’ve spent my entire life wishing I was somewhere else, that I was on a journey to somewhere exotic and foreign. While I’ve traveled a bit and to incredible places, I’ve always come home to a seemingly ordinary life. I’ve read quotes recently that say something to the effect ‘create the life you don’t have to get away from’ and now I’m thinking:

Journeys aren’t all about going somewhere else.

However, journeys are about change.

“The journey of 1000 miles begin with one step.” Lao Tzu

Each of us is on a journey. Some are longer and some are shorter than others but they all have one thing in common: each one begins with that single step. The journey to a life you don’t have to get away from begins the same way.

I’ve also discovered that it is always something that starts that journey. A catalyst, if you will. Sometimes this beginning is simply the end of something else. Other times life leaves you no choice but to begin that journey again. When I am working with clients I sometimes call this ‘the full belly syndrome’.

I’m sure we’ve all been at a place when we’ve had enough. When life simply isn’t working and you need to find a different journey. It takes courage to change midstream, for us to overcome our fears for where the journey may take us. It takes courage to walk away from relationships that don’t work or a job that you hate. We want to know where things will go but life seldom gives us guarantees.

It’s all up to you.

You don’t have to know where you are going to take that first step. That step is the hardest one to take simply because it requires faith in yourself.

You always have a choice because nothing happens until you begin to move. It is much easier to keep moving than to start moving. It is not impossible.

Speed is irrelevant on your journey. Sometimes things move fast and sometimes things move slow but since it is your journey, it is generally timely. Besides, you can’t compare your journey to another person’s. You have no idea what has brought them to this place.

Every journey has a rest stop and that is okay. Sometimes we need to take a breather to gather the strength for the next leg of our journey. Rest can be a good thing.

Sometimes I feel as if I am always looking for the next big thing but I am beginning to realize that none of the side trips I take on my journey are wasted. Everything I do, see, or experience becomes part of my journey.

Beginning a new journey is exhilarating and, at times, downright scary.

Take a deep breath and make that first step.

I dare you!

Tips to Thrive During the #365 Project

#365 Project Difficulties

Why is it that every time I start an ambitious project with great excitement and enthusiasm, it doesn’t take long to slow down or even quit? Setting goals and keeping them is one of the most difficult things in my life, even ones that seem small. I’m sure I am not alone.

Normally, this post would be all of the pictures I’ve taken for my #365 Projects in the previous week. However, as you will see, there are fewer photos posted here.

Why?

I want to say ‘because’ and leave it at that. But that isn’t the answer. I don’t necessarily have one, at least not one that is good. I did manage to post a few photos this week but not every day. I’m not even sure this week counts because I took so few.

Do I begin again?

Is there a secret to completing a project like the #365 Project?

What can I do to achieve success?

The following are a few tips that I am going to use to thrive during my #365 Project:

Carry a camera everywhere and take it out of the bag. Although carrying my camera every day is something I’ve done since this project began, as you can see, that doesn’t mean I took it out of the bag. Thriving during this project means the camera has to come out and aimed, focused and the shot taken.

Post the photo as soon as you can after you press the shutter. If you are editing every photo, then this won’t happen, but my goal is to get in the habit of looking for photo opportunities not editing. Editing will come later. But for now, working on my #365 Project means taking the photo and posting it on Instagram is all one task, not two different tasks.

Look for the mundane. There is a little voice inside my head that says that my photos have to be about spectacular moments. If I believed that little voice, I wouldn’t take many pictures. Life is made up of many small moments, most of them quite ordinary, and all of them deserve to be recognized. So if that means pictures of my cat or my writing space, so be it. The magic is in the mundane.

Take pictures early in the day. I have found that if I wait to find an opportunity to shoot, I am more likely to either forget about it or make a choice to not take my camera out of the bag. I find that I am most creative earlier in the day and I am ready to be done by dinner time. Guilt is problematic when I am trying to relax, and I do feel guilty for not accomplishing the things I’ve set out to do. Completing the #365 Project early in the day means I don’t have to worry about it and I can relax.

Find a way to be accountable to someone. For me, I’ve decided to make this post each week which is my accountability. I didn’t think of accountability earlier in the week but, truly, sharing my creativity is important to me, and I will use that from now on.

Hopefully, if you are tackling bigger and longer projects, some of these hints will come in helpful. I know I need all the help I can get when I am looking at more ambitious projects. I am looking forward to sharing these small moments with you in the next week.

Here are the photo’s I managed to shoot and post in the last week:

 

Last Week’s #365 Project Post

Encountering Speed Bumps in Life

Speed BumpsHave you ever been driving through a parking lot and didn’t realize there were speed bumps in your path?

If you were lucky, the only thing that would happen is a scraping sound on the bottom of your car.

The same thing can happen in life too.

You will be going along and all of a sudden some kind of bump appears out of nowhere and you are getting banged up.

It’s a speed pump.

Life is bumpy. We never know what is lying ahead. I first spoke about speed bumps in this post.

How to handle the speed bumps in your life:

First, you have to see and accept that it is there. When you are driving this happens pretty automatically. In life, acceptance is often the first step in dealing with anything.

Next, you must slow down. There are consequences if you don’t. Scraping the bottom of your car as you cringe just knowing that you’ve damaged something when you go too fast over one. When a speed bump happens to you in life, slowing down is important too. If you go too fast, you can forget to feel which can lead to a damaging crash later.

Third, in slowing down for a speed pump, you must get your car all the way through before you can accelerate again. The same is true in real life. It takes time to deal with the event. Even though it can seem like you are on the road to recovery, derailment can still happen if you go too fast.

Finally, you are through and you begin to pick up speed. Life seems to happen a million miles an hour. Even though we would like it to slow down, as we settle into our new routine and life goes back to normal and the speed picks up.

We must make the conscious decision to take in the lessons learned in the speed bump. We must take the time to see and enjoy the life that we have before something happens and it changes.

Project 365: Days 5-11

Project 365 continues and I am already learning lessons. This week I’ve learned that it is okay to create opportunities and to take advantage of the ones that appear before me. The following pictures represent the opportunities that came my way this week:

Writing Shed in Snow
Project 365: Day 5
A Cold Winter's sunset
Project 365: Day 6
Old School Candlemaking
Project 365: Day 7
Project 365: Day 8
Project 365: Day 8
Coffee Shop Planning
Project 365: Day 9
Cousins!
365 Project: Day 10
Cousins!
365 Project: Day 10
Be The Light!
Project 365: Day 11

 

So far, I am enjoying this journey and I hope that you are too.

The 5 Stages of Change: Keys to Creating Change

time for a changeHave you ever wanted to make changes or begin a new habit only to give up before you even get started?

Or, told yourself you are lazy or worthless because you were unable to motivate yourself?

When looking at making a change in your life, you are neither lazy nor worthless.

 

 

For example, we are all told that we should move our bodies for 30-40 minutes every day. Walking in the morning or after dinner would fulfill this goal. Simple, right?

 

We all know how difficult this can be.

 

We know we “should” do something, and yet we stay sitting in front of the television mindlessly watching another boring show or with an electronic device perusing Facebook or playing a game, all the while beating ourselves up about not getting up and walking.

The truth is we simply aren’t ready to make the change.

The stage of change model is a transtheoretical model of change developed by James O. Procheska and Carlo DiClementa in 1977. This model states that there is a process to change that progresses through a series of stages.

Stages of Change

 

1. Precontemplation – In this stage, you aren’t ready to make any changes and may not even know that there is a problem requiring change.

2. Contemplation – Now, you realize there is a problem, and you may even know how to change, but you are still in the getting ready mode. In the contemplation stage, thoughts are often about the problem, and you are looking at solutions.

3. Preparation – At this moment, you are making plans to make the change. In some cases, you may even be taking small steps in preparation for making this change.

4. Action – Finally, you have implemented the plan you created during the preparation. This stage can last six months or more depending on the change you are working on, but this is the working stage.

5. Maintenance – During the maintenance stage, you’ve built the habit, and have little concern about not sticking with the change.

Let’s see how this would look in real life:

A woman in the pre-contemplation stage would go to the doctor with some minor health complaints. The recommendation is to begin an exercise regiment. This person may or may not be surprised at this information, and they either ignore the suggestion, or they accept the suggestion but do nothing about it.

As time goes on, she finds herself struggling to climb stairs and has less stamina than before. Remembering her doctor’s words, she begins to think about walking as her choice of exercise. However, she creates excuses to keep her from starting to exercise.

One day she spots her old walking shoes and decides that if she is ever going to make the change, she is going to have to prepare. She needs to replace her shoes because they are worn out and then begins making plans for when she will start.

Her thoughts may include the time of day, where she will walk and how she will manage this change in her life. She decides on a schedule that includes 20 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and she will walk first thing in the morning and has marked in on her calendar.

The night before her scheduled start date, she sets our her clothes and new shoes and sets her alarm to wake up earlier. In the morning, she rises and dresses in the clothing she prepared and ties her shoes on. Closing the door behind her, she heads out into the quiet early morning.

Over the next several months she works up to walking six days per week, gaining energy and building stamina. Looking forward to her walks and has begun to walk in races, even taking up hiking. Her life has become fulfilling.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the process of making changes or building habits in your life is seldom as straightforward. Speed bumps can and do appear often.

Give yourself some grace and accept that life happens. There is always tomorrow when you can begin again.