I recently got back from an amazing vacation, visiting a wonderful, playful, up-for-anything friend and seeing my most favorite band in the world (Dave Matthews Band ♥love them!♥).

I went completely on my own–no kids, no husband–and it was beautiful. For five days I got to play, play, play and do exactly what I wanted to do. As a mom of young children, I can assure you, this never happens.

It was a trip filled with so many new experiences for me. When I got home, I admit I was a little sad to be returning to my normal, predictable, responsible life. I truly love my life, and I love my family, but it was such a refreshing break to be just Jaime for a short time–in as pure and powerful and unadulterated a form as possible.

I think everybody needs this kind of reconnection to self every once in awhile. There are lots of ways to get there, but the way I do it–the way I get back to my essence and remember who I am, really–is through play.

And, the more I think about it, the more I realize a large part of my need for play as an adult is to fill a craving for new experiences. When we’re kids, everything is new; everything is an adventure. Sometimes as adults, if we’re not careful, life starts to get a little too routine. We lose that wondrous, innocent feeling of experiencing everything through fresh eyes. But we don’t have to…

The experience of my transformative trip inspired me to make a list of all the ways I loved to play as a kid… and the ways I love to play today, as an adult:

The ways I played as a kid:

    • Go exploring in nature (my family had a dairy farm; I’d spend all day roaming around the pastures and woods, naming and mapping out landmarks and having adventures)
    • Ride my bike
    • Play with my animals (at various times: cats, dogs, a goat, ducks, chickens, a calf, box turtles and tadpoles I’d caught, etc.)
    • Draw
    • Play dress-up
    • Pretend
    • Make up stories
    • Daydream
    • Dance and sing, listen to music
    • Make movies, take photos, write stories, pretend to be a reporter
    • Read
    • Bake (actual edible) cakes and cupcakes… and also mimosa-leaf soup and roly poly mud-cakes
    • Climb trees
    • Build forts (in the cedar tree in my mom’s yard, between the hay bales at the farm, in that old oak with the nails in the bark…)
    • Play in the rain/mud/creek

This is me playing today... at DMB Caravan with Susan. I swear I have not been happier in ages!

The ways I play as an adult:

    • Go exploring in nature; explore my neighborhood
    • Travel
    • Ride my bike/run
    • Play with my kids (it’s a good excuse to slip in the occasional game of hide-and-seek or tag)
    • Play dress-up (although now, unlike when I was a kid, I usually have somewhere to go after I get all dressed!)
    • Pretend/make up stories/daydream (aka “I’m a writer”)
    • Dance and sing, listen to music (at home, at concerts, in my head, all the time)
    • Write/blog/think about interesting ideas
    • Take photos
    • Read
    • Cook, enjoy, try new foods
    • Good conversation and laughter with friends
    • Climb trees, play in the rain/mud (yeah, sometimes!)

So… what about you? How did you play as a kid?  How do you play now? See any similarities? Feeling the urge to dive back into some forgotten passions? Listen to this and think about it a bit, then I wanna hear all about it!

“Scream and shout it loud, oh innocence! In the days when all we did would never end. …Bring that beat back to me again…”


© Jaime Greenberg, 2011
Originally posted on discovered in play blog, July 2011