What do all these things have in common?
They feel good.
And the funny thing is, they are good for you. I began with play, of course. And boy did I play. I was sometimes a female detective (circa Cagney and Lacey), I held my own Smurf concerts (think Woodstock, but with my record player on fast speed, and the pit of people all blue), I pretended George Michael was my boyfriend.
And then I progressed into art, of course.
In school we study art (if we’re lucky) and I was told I was good at it, so I kept doing it. Looking back, I think I was average at best, but it made me happy, and gave me an outlet to do some independent, age appropriate play. I was fortunate enough to make it all the way through college without anyone telling me I was awful at it, but typically people will tell you it’s a waste of your time by 5th grade. They will tell you, it’s fine, but you should be doing something else. I didn’t hear that, until I graduated from college, and then it was a message I sent to myself. I needed a job.
I started massage school and began a rather successful business, one I still run to this day! And while it was a means to pay bills and enjoy working, I stopped making any art. It was a waste of time. I needed to make money, not art, I needed to be an “adult.” Then I had a baby and realized I needed art like I needed oxygen. It had been years. I started back by drawing my pets, doodling when I was up in the wee hours of the night with a sick baby, and fantasizing about future paintings. My art brain returned, just about the time I realized I needed to get back into school to learn Art Therapy.
Art kept me from forgetting who I was in those confusing months after having my baby, a time when I really lost the person I had been before. Without it, I started to hear the other mothers words of pride and confidence. They had it all together and I couldn’t even manage to make milk (or so I thought). Without art I might have been swept away by my own insecurities. With art, I began to pursue a masters degree at Naropa University.
Through my internship at Naropa, I stumbled upon a play therapy site. Play therapy? I’m back to play? This should be easy, I play with my daughter. But this was so much more. I was mindful of the play, suddenly a part of an action movie, I was aware of the monsters lurking outside that we had to hide from. I learned how to play as I had when I was little, not as a tired parent who needs a break to regain their own sanity (which I can’t judge, because I have been there OH so many times!! Like when I laid on the floor fast asleep and my daughter built legos all around me). When play is broken down into shorter increments, an hour at a time, magic can really happen. It’s good parenting advise, too: don’t bother trying to be “on” all the time, because that’s impossible. But if you are “on” some of the time, that becomes the quality time we are all trying for!
We really do know how to live when we are young. Everything I have learned as an adult has been a relearning of knowledge I had in me all along. Would the kid you were in the past want to play with the adult you have become? Would they pick up on your distractions? Would they think you were faking it? What if we all could just go back, even for a little while, and enjoy life in the moment? Try it.
It’s like an long overdue vacation from the reality we have created.