Starting to remember.

I mentioned in my last post that I recently took a telecourse on finding your passion.  During the second class, I had an epiphany. I realized that what I really needed in order to find my passion was to play. The instructor of the course provided us with some worksheets and when glancing through them I saw that she had listed a book called The Gift of Play: Why Women Stop Playing and How to Start Again by Barbara Brannen. As soon as I saw the title, I knew I needed to read it right away. I wanted to find out more about playing as soon as possible!

I feel kind of silly writing that now. I mean, how can a grown woman need to learn how to play? (That’s kind of what I’d like to explore in much more detail over time). But the truth is, I have forgotten. And I don’t think I’m alone, thank goodness. That’s why Ms. Brannen wrote this book. I wanted to purchase it immediately, but I actually had a bit of trouble tracking it down from a library (always my first choice) or even a brick and mortar store. I called all the nearby places but no luck. I had to order it on Amazon and wait a week or so.

The good news was, thanks to Google Books, I was able to read the first several chapters online while I waited for it to arrive. The author begins by describing some of her earliest play experiences. She grew up in a rural environment and loved to play outside. While reading her descriptions of outdoor play, I immediately started having memories of things that I loved doing as a child. And what I remembered both surprised me and inspired me.

The surprising part was how much all the outdoorsy, nature type activities she described really struck a chord with me. These kinds of memories aren’t usually what I think about when I remember my childhood. I’ve always thought of myself as a bookworm and my family members think of me that way too. But what I’ve realized is that reading books aren’t at all a part of my most vivid childhood memories. What has really stuck with me and what made my heart sing (one of the key ingredients to knowing what is real play for you, according to Brannen) were my outdoor adventures.

I remember riding bikes in my neighborhood all day. And I remember playing near a pond in my suburban neighborhood and catching tadpoles and weeks later waking up to find hundreds upon hundreds of frogs all over our driveway and up and down the street. I was amazed and fascinated. It felt magical. I remember exploring the woods near a relative’s house where you could swing on vines dangling from the trees. And one of my absolute favorite memories is of a summer trip to Wisconsin. I fell in love with the state on that trip, and I never really knew why. I now realize it was the adventure of exploring a new outdoor world. My family and I wandered through old barns and walked through fields of growing summer vegetables. At a relative’s house we ate peas and raspberries right off the vines and ate dinner outside while the sun set. These are just a few of my favorite play memories that erupted out of nowhere and left me feeling absolutely inspired.

How about you? Do any of my memories strike a chord with you? What made you feel joyful as a child? I’d love to know.

Photo credits: all taken by me of my three favorite kids doing what comes naturally.

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