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.
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!