Time to Play

Hours pass by. I’m supposed to be doing other things but I find myself tinkering, a block becoming a breakthrough, trying to get a detail just right. Is it weird that I’m having fun, preparing a workshop all about play?

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading and feeling inspired by Stuart Brown’s wonderful book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. I first came across it in Brene Brown’s 2010 book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, a slim but wonderful volume which has recently been reissued as a hardback for the first time.

Her 7th Guidepost for “Wholehearted living”, Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth feels even more needed now than it did 11 years ago.

Brene recalls;

“I remember telling one of my colleagues, “These Wholehearted people fool around a lot.” She laughed and asked, “Fool around? How?”

I shrugged, “I don’t know. They have fun and .. I don’t know what you call it. They hang out and do fun things.”

She looked confused. “Like what kind of fun things? Hobbies? Crafts? Sports?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Kinda like that but not so organised. I’m going to have to dig around some more.”

Now I look back on that conversation and think, How did I not know what I was seeing? Was I so personally removed from this concept that I couldn’t recognise it?

It’s PLAY! A critically important component of Wholehearted living is play!”

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

I’ve had times in my life when the concept of play was as alien to me as it once was to Brene.

For, as Stuart Brown points out, “The opposite of play is not work; the opposite of play is depression.” And I think many of us are severely play-deprived at this stage in the pandemic.

As I recount recent conversations with friends, I’m struck by those I know who have overcome recent struggles, and those who are still finding a path through.

The former have made time to play, be it walks in nature or an afternoon on a pedalo; the latter I will now urge to find a way to play.

For it’s a biological need as necessary as food, sleep and rest, and which can manifest in a multitude of ways – some of us are competitors, who need goals and structures, others need to move their body through dance or sport, and others find their bliss through collecting unique objects or experiences.

Play is more than just ‘clowning around’ (the ‘Joker’ being only one of the Play Personalities Stuart Brown has identified);

Stuart Brown’s 8 Play Personalities © Anya Pearse 2021

As I look ahead, this month feels pretty full already. As part of taking care of myself, I know that actively making time to play will be as important as taking time to rest.

Research shows that a simple act of creativity a day – normal things like cooking, drawing, craft etc – help us flourish and “feel significantly more energetic, enthusiastic, and excited the next day”.

So tomorrow (Sunday) is a sewing day for me. Time to nourish my inner Artist/Creator!

What role does play have in your life? And is there a way for you to include more play in your life this month, too, I wonder?


Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels


PS Want to attend my workshop on Monday 3rd of May? It’s part of The Museum of Happiness’s Happy World Club! For just £10 a month you get access to four sessions – a launch session on the month’s topic, a special guest speaker, a virtual hang-out, and a held sharing circle. Come and join me!

Sowing seeds

The weather forecast predicts the return of cold weather but, as I write, spring is in the air – together with a desire to be out in nature.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I’m not an outdoorsy person. I tend to feel the cold so like to be dry and warm, with bathroom facilities and food in near-constant and reassuring proximity.

Continue reading “Sowing seeds”

Love and hurt

As I’ve said before, given that ‘love’ is in the title of my website, I’m kinda contractually obliged to write about the subject when the month of February rolls around. And it’s one I’ve written about a lot.

But I confess that it’s been a subject that’s been playing on my mind recently. One I’ve actively wrestled with over the last month.

Continue reading “Love and hurt”

Which one are you feeding?

It’s the 1st of January today so I think I’ll be in some good company when I make the following confession: I picked up a pretty bad habit last year.

Nothing big, dark or scary, by the way. I haven’t developed a penchant for loitering in opium dens, or for putting everything I have on red (not being able to leave the house due to a rampaging pandemic has some unexpected benefits, huh).

But I felt pretty lonely during 2020 (not being able to spend time with other people, physically, in person, tends to do that to a gal), and I’ve found myself doom-scrolling on Twitter as a result. And for something I do to make myself feel better, I sure do feel worse afterwards.

Continue reading “Which one are you feeding?”

The power of “I Don’t Know”

I have a bit of a reputation amongst my circle for being someone who knows. Friends reach out to me for advice. Strangers ask me questions. Colleagues trust.

And, for the most part, I have an answer. While my mind feels more bric-a-brac-come-room of hidden things, it’s astonishing the amount of half-helpful stuff my intellect has acquired.

(I’m not being modest about ‘half-helpful’; I generally only remember enough to trigger a lengthy Google-Fu session.)

Continue reading “The power of “I Don’t Know””

Cultivating open hands

I spoke to a friend this week about a meditation practise I’ve just committed to, and came up with a turn of phrase which really caught her imagination (“Thank you, I’m stealing that one!”, she exclaimed). It’s a phrase, an idea, I’ve been sitting with ever since.

Continue reading “Cultivating open hands”

Attention is love

One of my favourite quotes comes from the Zen Buddhist John Tarrant Roshi; “Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it to we blessed and are blessed.”

I’ve been thinking about attention over the last month – or more, how I planned to be really focused, to catch up on a ton of projects, and how all my plans went out of the window.

My mother was admitted to hospital out of the blue, so in many ways my attention has been scattered, lurching between concerns about the present and some pretty scary thinking about the future.

But in other ways, I’ve seen even more clearly how attention can be the most basic form of love. Continue reading “Attention is love”

Hello, thought storms

Confession: I put myself through the wringer a couple of times last month. I reacted to some stuff with a whole BUNCH of insecure thinking about them, to the point where I didn’t know which way was up any more.

Continue reading “Hello, thought storms”