Life’s a Game—So Make a Summer Play Date With Your Pals

Energy Express


July 2020 Issue
Energy Express
by Marilynn Preston

Little things mean a lot. Even one single summer day of play­­—with family and friends, no cellphones allowed­­—has value. Think of it as clicking the Refresh button on your computer, except you’re the one who gets to kick back, refocus, feel gratitude and begin again.

WHY BOTHER? Playing outdoors awakens our weary bodies, renews our energy and floods our brains with pleasure chemicals that are legal and self-made. If you’ve never had your consciousness altered by an encounter with a deep forest, a quiet river, a spider’s web, you’ve missed out. But don’t worry. The path to a healthier, happier lifestyle is open 24/7, if only you know the way.

One way begins with Carpe Diem. Seize the day, any summer day—weekends are usually best—and plan a Friends & Family Fitness & Fun Day. (But think of a better name.)

WHO IS YOUR FAMILY? The definition of family has changed dramatically over the last few years. Your ex’s new wife, your son’s partner, your daughter’s yoga teacher. These days, “family” pretty much includes any group of kindred spirits you enjoy spending time with. We have no problem inviting pals over to watch the Super Bowl. Why not invite them out for a super day of play? There’s a lot of summer left.

OPTIONS GALORE. The homework and determination of What To Do falls to you Dear Reader, but just to get your brain going: Host a one-hour tennis lesson followed by a two-hour tournament; drive to a rural destination and explore it, on foot, including a picnic; get someone to teach you all Ultimate Frisbee and play your first game. The old standbys work, too: softball, volleyball, badminton. Anyone for croquet? Beach Bocci?

Be the Decider! Pick an activity that you’re enthusiastic about! Your excitement is contagious and makes it fun for others.

WARM-UP GAMES CREATE TEAM SPIRIT. No matter what you choose, start your Outdoor Adventure Day (better name!) with warm-up games. Here are some golden oldies I learned years ago, guaranteed to not only break the ice, but smash it into tiny, melting chards.

FOLLOW THE LEADER. First, you must be brave and tune in to your Inner Camp Counselor. Blow your whistle, and ask everyone to line up behind you. You are the leader, and everyone does what you do. Then start doing! Walk on your toes, flap your arms, swoop like an airplane, bray like a donkey, hop like a bunny, walk backward, walk tall, walk short, just make it up as you go along and have your best time. A truly evolved leader will incorporate sounds, breath and silence. Keep it going for five minutes or so, and when you spot someone with a wild smile on his face, ask him to take over the lead.

CIRCLE BALL. Gather your group into a circle. Stand at arms length distance from each other. Give a bouncy round ball (a soccer ball is fine, or a small beach ball) to the person with, say, the next upcoming birthday. That person starts the action. The object is to kick the ball back and forth in the circle without it going past anyone. At the same time, everyone in the group must keep their feet moving, at all times.

Testosterone alert: This is a game of ball control and cooperation, not a contest to see who can kick the ball the hardest or farthest. Tell everyone that. As the group gets more skilled at passing the ball back and forth, form a wider circle. This is nothing but fun, and it’s even better if you’ve got some summer music playing.

THE COOL-DOWN CIRCLE. At the end of your day of play, mark the moment by whistle-blowing everybody back into a circle. Tell them what the day meant to you. Then go around the circle, inviting each of them to say something, too. Some will, some won’t, but everyone is sure to get something out of it. And resist rolling your eyes—this is how sharing works.

End the circle by picking the date of next year’s (or next month’s) event. And try to get somebody else to organize it.

“Life is a song­—sing it. Life is a game—play it.
Life is a challenge—meet it. Life is a dream—realize it. Life is love—enjoy it.”
-Sai Baba-

Marilynn Preston is the author of "Energy Express," America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new Amazon best-seller "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit ©2020 ENERGY EXPRESS LTD.

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