20 Ways to Play

When was the last time you played?  

Really PLAYED?

Was it last weekend, last year, or when you were seven?

Adults aren’t supposed to play.  And so when we feel like it, we use phrases like, “let’s go get a drink,” or even, “let’s go dancing, or do karaoke.”  (The latter being closest to playing)

However, there’s still a stigma with letting loose enough to truly play.  Most adults need a minimum of one drink to let go, dance or sing!

What happened to unadulterated, no holds bar, playing?

Be honest with yourself – do you even know how to play??

A few years ago, while I was building my business from scratch, I felt the world’s pressures build upon my shoulders:  working my hardest to generate enough income, not letting the ‘bastards get me down,’ balancing stress levels, while simultaneously convincing myself that if I followed my dreams long and hard enough, I could and would break through (exhausting!).

Fortunately, during this intensity I made a new friend, Danielle.

Danielle didn’t feel these same pressures in life.  She often went out, not to get drunk, but to play and paint the town red! 

I joined her.


We danced in Whole Foods Market isles, even when we were given odd stares, and in parking garages.  We saw a cat on the street and meowed with her.  We went to a concert where no one was dancing, and started dancing… five minutes later the dance floor was packed, and we left to do something else goofy, or simply fun.

Beyond that, we climbed trees, flirted with people we met during hikes, and soon, had a whole group of friends who knew how to play.  We exercised our ‘play muscles’ daily.

Some weekends I stayed up until dawn at parties (where people were drank kombucha and ate raw vegan food, rather than drinking beer and eating cheesecake – mind you nothing is wrong with beer and cheesecake).  I’d wake up at noon the next day happy, and with vibrant energy… perhaps because I played?

Something was awakened within me:  my inner child. 

And for the first time since I was about eleven, I remembered how to really play.

You must know You’re not as far away from playing as you may think!
Here are a few tips to get you started: 

-Learn to be playful by yourself
-Invite others in your community to play with you
-Play in nature
-Learn to play while moving your body
-Learn to play in stillness
-Stop worrying about what anyone else thinks!  They’re too busy worrying about what you think to actually give a darn!

So put down your phone for 10 minutes.  And choose one of these items from the list.  You have no excuses anymore.  GO PLAY!

20 Ways to Play:

1. Dance – like nobody’s watching
2. Garden – but really dig in and get dirty
3. Sing – your lil’ heart out!
4. Swing on a swing set – all the way to Kentucky
5. Shut Your Eyes – and see pictures on your eyelids
6. Roll down a hill
7. Finger paint
8. Color – on paper w/ crayons, or on the sidewalk w/ chalk
9. Climb a tree
10. Tell a secret in your friend’s ear
11. Giggle – hint: it starts with a funny smile
12. Play drums – using pots, pans and spatulas
13. Invite friends over for a “play date”
14. Hang out with small children – do as they do
15. Tumble with a young dog
16. Drive without a destination; explore wherever you stop like it’s the Land of Oz.
17. Winter:  ice skate or sled
18. Summer:  run through the sprinkler
19. Hula Hoop
20. Make pretend – you’re an animal


   In the comment section below, let us know:
Are you playful in a way that wasn’t listed? 

   If so, how on earth do you play?
And if not, how do you intend to incorporate playing into your daily life?  

5 Responses to 20 Ways to Play

  1. Rachel Greenhouse August 15, 2013 at 4:09 PM #

    Gorgeous post, Ariella! At the age of 45, I am still learning to nurture my inner child’s need to play. I was uber serious in my early life…Life and death serious. So, it has taken some work to reorient myself. A number of years ago, I took a big step in this direction by asking Jeremy and the boys to get me a swing for our yard. The Mother’s Day gift was a tribute to the relatively few hours I spent feeling free and emotionally unencumbered as a child, swinging alone in the playground at the local school. Even now, I love to put my music on my ipod and just “disappear” for a bit in my swing, which has a sense of sacredness to it. This year, I graduated my play studies to the next level by asking my boys to get me a *double* hammock. How decadent to simply lie down and read for a few minutes or nap in the middle of the day, when there are SO MANY things to do! The hammock represents the permission I give myself to do that, even on the busiest of days. And it’s a reminder to nurture my relationship with my husband and nature, by spending a few minutes under the stars together on summer evenings. The image of the girl on a swing I included with this blog post is a visual symbol of what I’ve just described. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed yours! http://ilbelfarniente.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/the-summer-day/

    • Ariella August 15, 2013 at 4:31 PM #

      I love the essence of you swinging through the air, Rachel… and I love the hammock. So many dimensions to it; play, rest, nature, romance. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your blog, it is, what is the word? ENCHANTING.

  2. Kerri August 16, 2013 at 2:27 PM #

    I am often a very serious girl.
    “Why the stern look?” an acquaintance recently asked me.
    But when I drive by a flock of wild turkeys, I roll down the car window and holler, “Gobble, gobble, gobble!” Even if there are other people in the car.
    And it makes me feel happy every single time.

    • Ariella August 16, 2013 at 2:34 PM #

      Kerri, I find that totally awesome, and it makes me happy to hear…
      ~Ariella 🙂

  3. christine bergland May 25, 2017 at 9:01 AM #

    I do like to jump on a playground swing every now and then….guess I haven’t done it for awhile! (good reminder).
    Also, a top ten favorite activity is driving in the car with two or all three of my grown daughters, having an Indigo Girls or Rent Soundtrack CD in
    and singing all the parts together!

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