Can You Come Out & Play?

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May 2019 Issue
Story and Illustrations by Jill Badonsky

My boyfriend and I pretend we have thick New Jersey accents when we go to art museums. It dissolves the pretension that sometimes comes with viewing art in a somewhat subdued and stuffy environment. It also entertains on-lookers, perhaps adding a little humor to their day, and who doesn’t need humor? One more thing it does, it keeps our relationship fresh and unpredictable. There are advantages to consistency, but a predictable relationship breeds boredom, and we don’t want that.

He texts me in the morning “Good morning, Honey,” and I text back, “Awww, tanks Fwankie, you are so schweet and muscular.” (His name is Robin.)  I’m more likely to get a fun conversation going that way than if I text back, “Good morning, sweetie.” Playfulness keeps relationships vital. It helps you have something to fall back on when times get rough.

Fun is a motivator and keeps our minds creative.
Renown psychologist, Abraham Maslow wrote, “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” I’d add, “A lot comes from purposeless play, as well. The only purpose we really need with play is to lighten up. When we’re playful, ideas volunteer themselves; when we’re serious, they often hide.” Playing helped me persevere in writing books and in building a business.

Playfulness is not only one of the best perks of being alive, it’s also seriously beneficial. 
Lucia Capocchione said, “Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good.”  I want my life to taste good.

Stuart Brown, MD noted, “Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress, or lose the healing capacity for humor.”

Play is a coping mechanism. There is enough darkness in the world to bring us all down. The ability to play with how we see life, to divert our attention with something light and pressure free, to give ourselves a break by inviting back our childlike wonder, all boosts our vitality not only to live, but to live with delight! We recreate ourselves with recreation, both mentally and physically.

If Your Playfulness Has Wilted,
Here Are Five Ways to Get it Back:

JillB 0519 11) Go Outside and Play  
Think of something you’ll look for, and call it an adventure, even give it a name. Take smart phone photos of all the yellow things you see and post on social media, perhaps name it, Yellow, It’s Me. Or look for flags, square shapes, dogs, or found objects that you can give a new function.

Pretend like this is the very first time you’ve ever been outside, how might your attention plug into your wonder? What textures, fragrances, sights would you most appreciate?

2) Be an Artist with Reckless AbandonJillB 0519 2
Don’t allow your inner critic, expectations of perfection, or the dreaded comparing yourself to others take the fun out of art.  Draw a dog, a typewriter, a dial-phone, a pig with your eyes closed. Turn a picture upside-down and copy it, or use your non-dominant hand.  Get out of your head and just allow for play. I do these exercises at my retreats, and they are instant smile-makers; and bonus: the drawings often delight the neophyte or expert artist.

Give yourself permission to write something awful. A three-line story about what’s in your refrigerator. First line sets up the story, second line creates a conflict, third is a silly resolution or closure.

Lorraine keeps chocolate in her refrigerator for emergencies.
Milk chocolate for chin hairs, dark chocolate for bad hair days.
Weird how she keeps losing her tweezers and doesn’t own a comb.

Not my best, but that’s okay, just saying … just playing.

3) Invite a few Fun Friends over for a “Play Date.”
Put out board games, art supplies, costumes, and just hang out and create fun. Make paper bag hats, turn the TV on with the volume off and create your own dialog, play charades, or get some of the many new games now out. Serve grilled cheese sandwiches, or have people bring their favorite childhood dish, or a joke to share. Hand out crowns, kazoos, or easy crafts found at your local store or online at Oriental Trading.

4) Summon Your Own Playful Wisdom
Simply ask yourself regularly, “How can I be more playful,” or “How can I make this fun?” No need for an immediate answer, your subconscious will play with the question, and you might find yourself effortlessly having more fun without even having to know why on a conscious level.

5) Dance
Alone, with friends, with strangers, just dance. Dance in your kitchen, your living room, the beach. Put music on when you clean. Stress and worry don’t exist in the realm of dancing.

“We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~George Bernard Shaw

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JillB 0519 headshotJill Badonsky, M. Ed., is the author/illustrator of three books on creativity, certified yoga instructor, founder of Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching training, and dispatcher of Modern-Day Muses. If you want to play and feel like a kid again, Jill runs a summer camp for women over the age of 30. There's art and writing for beginners who have no confidence all the way to experts wanting a fresh approach. Be pampered, laugh and make new friends, explore Taos, and experience a real happy hour on the balcony of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House. Or join Jill's online community and play daily with her funny prompts on Facebook:;

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