Have a play date…it’s good for what ails you!

By the end of last week I had a tired brain! I can think too much…we all do! I found myself ruminating over the problems of others, taking tidbits of personal stories and shared information– everything from health concerns to marital issues to financial emergencies, and although none of the problems were mine to solve, I’d been holding my breath along with the friends who originally shared.

We all have individual problems to solve, situations to straighten out and burdensome responsibilities. I’ve learned that often the best thing I can do for friends, as well as myself, is encourage a straight look at how stress is being handled. Although it is a part of life,  some people have been under stress for so long they no longer recognize how it is robbing them of overall health and well-being.

I’ve been doing some reading on play, creativity and lifelong learning. Authors Kemp, Smith, DeKoven and Segal state that we need more play in our lives! Research suggests that play (and fun) helps us develop our imaginations, boosts our creativity, and strengthens our overall mental health–and play is often when we are at our best and feel most alive, yet, under stress, we often completely forget that it is in our best interest to invest in times of play.

Some of you might think I have plenty of play weekends. Well, I do, but I usually don’t share with you the household chores and housework, gardening essentials, paperwork (paying the bills) and general life maintenance that is done first. I was raised with a good dose of “get your chores done before you go out and play!” But this weekend I JUST played!

I had some time at home on Friday and fully expected to do a little end-of-week cleaning. But it was a nice day, and I found myself just wandering outside listening to birds, and observing plants and as it began to warm up a bit, I opened the greenhouse door to check on Darwin. I found him nestled into his little box of Timothy Hay.

We provide the environment, and Darwin takes care to regulate his own heat and comfort requirements. I said a quick “hello” and then decided our little box tortoise, Rocky, needed a little attention.

Rocky is a small box tortoise; a fraction of Darwin’s size. We found him in our yard more than ten years ago. He has wonderful orange markings, and notice how smooth his shell is in comparison to Darwin. Rocky lives in a large reptile tank, and in winter months he semi-hibernates. Now that we are nearing spring, he is a bit more active and we’ll begin to let him out for a little exercise. We have to keep an eye on him, though, as he is quick and will escape! I suppose that’s how we found him in our yard years ago. He was probably someone’s pet!

Friday afternoon I retrieved my favorite playmates and brought Sophia and Karina to our house for the night. They provide wonderful preoccupation, and I can always avoid  housework and other chores by playing board games, reading books, and observing them as they explore the outdoors, too.

They enjoy feeding the birds and are quite amused with the pesky squirrels! I don’t call them “pesky” in front of the girls!

Saturday morning we went to pick up our weekly produce box from the farm-share delivery service and brought home a vegetable they’d never previously seen.

Romanesco

Is it broccoli? Is it cauliflower? Is it from outer space? I love the surprises that come in our weekly produce box, and the girls examined this carefully, making their own assessment.  This week’s box also contained Brussel’s Sprouts, which they assured me they LOVE! That’ll be the day!

I didn’t have any particular plans for the fresh Thyme included in the box,  so what to do with the sweetly fragrant herb?  I made Rosemary bread, substituting Thyme. Delicious!

The weekend’s play didn’t stop here! We arranged to deliver the girls back to their parents via a nice trip to the Los Angeles Farmers Market. This L.A. landmark has been in continuous operation since 1934 and is worthy of its own post–you can count on one soon, but this trip we only lingered long enough to grab a quick lunch before we walked the 1/2 block to the American Girl Store. Sophia and Karina received their first American Girl dolls at Christmas and still had some gift certificates available for “accessorizing.” The stores are overwhelming to adults, and I can hardly imagine how a child processes so many choices, but I thought the girls did very well understanding limits.

Children choose dolls with hair, eye and skin tones similar to their own features. Curly hair or straight, long or short, eye glasses or not, the dolls are very personal.  It wasn’t appropriate for me to take pictures of other children, but it was nice to see girls of all ages gathering for in-store birthday parties, holding their dolls and looking delightfully unsophisticated and very age-appropriate.

As Sophia and Karina get older I hope they show interest in some of the more historical dolls. The dolls aim to teach aspects of American history through an accompanying book series from the perspective of nine to eleven-year-old girls living in particular time periods.

The girls have their “toy” store, and I have mine. This three-story Barnes & Noble is quite the place. To everyone’s surprise, I didn’t buy one thing! My current book pile is toppling over, so I didn’t dare bring anything else home! But maybe next time?

We each define our “play” with different activities, and mine was just a simple breaking away from patterns of work and responsibility. It helps to be intentional; however, and if we take a break, let’s be sure to enjoy it as time spent adding to our well-being and reducing stress. I often hear friends say they didn’t do anything; they “wasted” time. I didn’t accomplish anything tangible this weekend, but I don’t think one moment was wasted!

I hope you’ll take care of yourself and find moments to play a bit throughout your week. You’ll feel better for it!

…Debra

30 thoughts on “Have a play date…it’s good for what ails you!

  1. Over the years, I’ve been introduced to a number of dolls that the girls in my family have adopted. There’s nothing cuter and your 2 Lil Ones are a case in point. Now, just so no one feels left out, Rocky & Darwin are cute, too, just not in the same way. (Whew! Dodged a bullet there!) And you’re right. We all need to play once in a while.

    • I could have gone on and on about this particular “doll palace,” John, but I was afraid I couldn’t do it justice and it might not come across as interesting. The best part was seeing little girls be little girls…something I fear is becoming more and more rare! Rocky and Darwin get lots of attention from Sophia and Karina, so they’re fine with sharing the spotlight! :-) Thank you! Debra

  2. Here, on the east coast, we have had a mild winter and spring is breaking early (let’s hope it stays that way). It has been wonderful to get out and listent to the birds. With all the squawking going on, they must be doing mating routines. It’s just glorious.

    • You HAVE had a milder winter, haven’t you, Kate! Isn’t that lovely! I absolutely know that spring is almost here, even if it is just the birdsong! The other day I couldn’t believe how much “chatter” I could hear in the backyard, and I simply marveled that nature has such a specific time table! And I agree with your word…it is glorious!! Debra

  3. The turtles look very happy. The bread does look delicious. And I have been a life-long believer in play. Play is good for the soul. Everyone needs some down time to refuel and recharge, I think…some of us more than others. I have always needed quite a bit. ;)

    • How wonderful to be able to say you have play dates with your 13 year old! That’s simply wonderful! I’m glad you enjoyed the American Girl pictures. This is all new to me! And I just love it. There are dolls I think I would like to have :-) Debra

  4. Wasn’t it John Lennon who said “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time”? I think it was, and I agree with him.

    I really wanted to go to the Farmers Market when I was there. It was so close but not open. :(

    Do you make your bread with a starter or some other way? I have a sourdough starter I use to make pretzels, from a seed older than me.

    • I’m sorry I’m not familiar with the John Lennon quote, but I love it! And since you missed the Farmers Market…that tells me approximately when you were in L.A.–the renovation and revitalization of that entire area is simply marvelous! They took an old and revered spot, completely kept its original character, and connected it to one of the most fantastic outdoor mall and gathering spots making it a very special destination. For once, developers did a really good job of marrying a landmark with cool!

      I’m intrigued with your pretzels and starter! Wow! My bread is a very basic, simple recipe. I haven’t yet worked with a starter, Andra, but I really hope to one day tackle that! It always sounds a little tricky. I would LOVE one of those pretzels! :-) Debra

    • That’s a great word to use, Kate–exuberant! Love it! The bread is such a basic, simple recipe, but I can whip it up quickly. I took some to my mom and dad, too. If I don’t get some of it out of my house, I completely overeat it! :-) Debra

  5. What a fun play day you had; from the veggies to the girls and everything in between. That bread looks wonderful, and, oh those little girls. They are darling!

    I’m looking forward to introducing Kezzie to the American Girls. We have a huge store in Chicago on Michigan Ave. that I’ve visited with my “big” girlfriends. Sue and I even bought each other a Bitty Baby one year for Christmas. tee hee We couldn’t justify buying one for our own, so, made a pact, took them home, wrapped them up, and exchanged them on Christmas Eve. You can just imagine the growns from everyone else there, though they still talk about it . . .

    • I just love this story, Penny! I hope you took pictures with your girlfriend with your Bitty Babies! That was a special occasion, for sure. I think you guys were so clever with that one! I know that the Chicago store is supposed to be really special, and won’t you have fun with Kezzie! Sophia and Karina have a slightly older cousin who loves her doll, and that sort of “kick-started” the American Girl experience into the family. I was just thrilled to see so many older girls really loving their special dolls! D

  6. Play dates: well, so far since 2007 I have not had ONE play date. I really need to contemplate this one and do something about it. Maybe it’s because I am such a serious person. To me playing is reading a book. Love your photo’s and stories behind them. The message came to me at a time when I needed it. Two people I work with got promotions and raises before me and God knows I need both and deserve both, praying by April 1st my life gets better. :)

    • Since 2007 is just too long! I hope you’ll find a way to do something maybe just a little unexpected, and call that play! It’s hard when you have so many responsibilities, and it is also very discouraging to be overlooked at work! And God DOES know you need both…you’re working so hard, something’s coming! Everything I shared was from my heart and true, but I also know, Jackie, that there are some seasons in our lives that are not all the “free” to be playful. So just look for the little things, and even they will lift your spirits. oxo

  7. What a great post about a fun weekend, Debra. I tend to have days like that when I’m away, as DH and I are very content just to meander through our lives at home when in Wales, as we so love where we live. Thanks for the tip about thyme bread. What a good variation. Over here we don’t. to my knowledge, have American Girl dolls, but I will admit to having a stuffed rabbit toy on the rocking-chair in my bedroom. :-)

    • Is the stuffed rabbit toy from your childhood or your children’s? Either way, very special! I’m quite sure there wouldn’t be much call for American Girl dolls outside of the U.S.–especially because of the way they are tied to specific periods in American History. I think there could be some absolutely wonderful counterparts in Great Britain! Just think of all the dolls that could represent Queens and royalty across centuries :-) Meandering at home is a wonderful way to demonstrate contentment! There’s nothing better than being happy where we live, Perpetua. That’s a lovely thought! Debra

      • That’s so sweeet, Perpetua! I am very sentimental about my children’s stuffed toys. I still have my son’s Miss Piggy and Mighty Mouse! Ha! Maybe I should start my own little collection :-) D

  8. I rarely have to be encouraged to play — it comes naturally to me. I have to be encouraged to do anything else. Your bread looks gorgeous. I remember being nuts about dolls — it was all about dressing them and acting out scenes. THEY had ball gowns…

    • I hope you’re now feeling well enough to play, Sharyn! It seems you got “hit hard” with your bug! I’m glad I could remind you of your doll-play, and you’re right, it’s all in the outfits and accessories. It sounds like you had some really good ones :-) D

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