There was a time in my life as an adult that I had nothing BUT fun in my life. It was ALL play. It wound up being one of the most depressing times of my life.
I lived on a cruise ship, performing sketch and improv comedy, for the famed Second City Theater. As a cast, we only worked two nights a week, and the rest of the time was ours to do whatever we wanted.
On one extended contract of eight months with nothing purposeful to do and a stretch in the itinerary that went from NY to the Bahamas and back in seven days…
I hit a wall.
I. Did. Not. Want. To. Do. Anything.
With nothing but pleasure and no responsibilities, I found life to feel a bit meaningless. I loved performing, but that was a total of four hours a week. I fell into a deep depression with no purpose other than performing.
Now, ten years later, the design of my life has swung to the complete opposite end. I’m building a business, coaching, speaking, running workshops. I wake up with purpose. There is something to do every day….
And yet, I’ve hit a wall living in the extreme as well. I’m void of the fun I used to take for granted. My life has meaning, with only moments of fleeting pleasure.
Once again, I’ve hit a wall.
This is why I made PLAY my word for 2021. It’s a conscious choice to create more light-hearted moments in my life. I need to find the balance between Pleasure and Meaning.
So here are five things I’m doing to bring back more play into my life. With all of this adulting that 2020 has asked of us, perhaps you may need to find a bit more pleasure too. I hope you find something that sparks a bit of play in your life.
Connect Back with Childhood
What did you love doing as a little kid?
Over the summer, I did an intensive Inner Child workshop. And what happened when I got in touch with Lil’ Dee? It turns out she reminded me of the hours I used to spend hula hooping and bike riding.
The easy fix was getting a hula hoop, but of course, the adult Deanna made sure there was a purpose to the hula hooping, so I got a weighted one.
So, my first learning lesson comes with the idea that play should just be for play’s sake. There doesn’t need to be an agenda to it. It doesn’t have to be for a workout or to get your body in shape.
If anyone is interested in a weighted hula hoop, let me know. I want to get the hard plastic kind with a BB inside of it so I can hear it go round and round.
Next up, getting back to the beach to rent a bike and do some cruising. Wind in my hair, sun on my face with no cares in the world.
What did you love doing as a kid? How can you bring that back into your life every once in a while?
Find Play in the Every Day, and Every Day Find Play
I want to become open and curious about injecting more play in the daily mundane things that need to get done.
Part of it for me is being intentional with looking for opportunities to play. Because without an intention towards creating play, the days often slide by, filled with busy-ness.
Putting on some dance music to do the dishes, singing my “Let’s Go For A Walk” song to my dog, or listening to a fun podcast while doing laundry are all ways I can inject some fun into the mundane.
If you were to come up with ways to do the same, what might work for you?
Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
As I’ve gotten older, it has become easier to let go of worrying about what other people think of me and my choices.
When I can let go of that need to please, it gives others around me the freedom to do the same.
There’s a real moment of joy and connection in my workshops when I mess up. I’ll say the wrong word, have a technical mishap or put something in the wrong order. The moment I can laugh about it…everyone else can too.
At that moment, they can let go of any need to show up perfectly, and genuine connection can begin. It’s why I think my workshops and classes rate highly in the feedback provided. There is space for fun and play, and not an ounce of perfection is required.
I’ve always laughed at myself, especially in areas where I have a high level of competence. This year I want to bring that to places where I’m learning too. I think it will be even more critical there.
How about you? How important do you think it is to be able to laugh at yourself?
Do New Things
Okay, this year in quarantine has made it a bit tougher to do new things, but it’s not impossible. In fact, in times of chaos, we often see some brilliant creativity.
I started a new online storytelling show called The Antidote. Sarah created her own Etsy store, called Clay Me Down, designing and creating fun earrings. Corey created an online trivia show called Quizzia.
But for me, when I think of injecting more play, it’s with no plan and no outcome.
So, what does that mean for me?
Traveling to new locations, learning new things, experiencing new foods, and meeting new people bring me into the present moment, which is where play resides.
Some friends and I are already dreaming about a trip to France where we tour the countryside on bicycles and sleep on river barges. Now that sounds like fun to me.
Say Yes and Then Stay Open
I’m a self-identified extroverted introvert. Meaning I function well in front of a crowd. It’s just more challenging being IN the crowd.
Small talk feels challenging. My preference is to have deep, meaningful conversations about the state of the external and our internal worlds…punctuated with fun bits.
My introverted side wants to turn down invites, stay home on the couch and rewatch Ted Lasso for the fourth time.
So, the promise I’m making to myself this year is to say YES more often…and then the critical part…follow through and stay open to the moment.
My default has been to make plans and then not want to do them when the date arrives.
For more play to happen, I have to be willing to say yes; show up, and then stay open, not get into my judgmental mind.
As I reflect, when I’m able to do that, I always have more fun than I think I’m going to.
What are some things you can yes to more often?
Not work things…play things.
So that’s it—five things I want to do to bring some more play into my life. Hopefully, if you’ve been overwhelmed with a sense of adulting in your life, you’re to play more.
When we have more play in our lives, we’re more creative, better problem solvers, we let go of the rumination and worry. Play is in the present moment where all the goodness resides.