Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Time for Play

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

No play?  No time?  One of the most frequent topics I hear discussed among women, whether it's while grabbing a snippet of conversation in between playground equipment or sipping coffee at Starbucks, is finding balance in life. What do we allow into our days?  What do we edit out?  24/7 is hardly enough.

Sorry to disappoint you, but this is not a post about how to navigate the jungle of playdates, sports, music, school, family time, church, work pursuits, and other activities that seek to devour precious time. Except, perhaps, practicing the word "NO."  Consistently.  Brutally.  Even against the cultural tide of busyness that threatens to sweep the years away before we know what has happened, and we find ourselves looking back on a landscape littered with piles of activities and lists that no longer seem important.

What I know to be true about my own life is that I am MORE than dull when I don't make time for my own unique version of play.  The proverb might be rewritten like this, "All work and no play makes Kristen impatient, tired, discouraged, dull, less creative and less grateful." Gotta play.

Before there is a cacophony of voices demanding how play is supposed to happen, I want to acknowledge that there are different phases of life.  There are seasons when creating time for play is less complicated, when time and freedom are more abundant. There are also seasons when time is scarce, a precious commodity in our personal economy.  We wonder whether play can really be part of the picture. Adding in play takes committed intention. 

Please don't give up, even when it takes more intention.  The intentionality required will force you to sharpen your vision, to narrow your focus and spotlight the priorities that are most cherished in your life. You might find that you can be ruthless when cutting the extraneous junk out of your life.  It might require you to, say, keep the TV off at the end of a day instead of collapsing on the couch.  Maybe it means trading childcare to find a couple of hours here and there. Guilt-free.  Not easy.  I know, I know.

One of the ways I play is to get outdoors and run.  Up early before my husband leaves for work, I roll out of bed and lace up my shoes in the dark. Many Saturday mornings I step carefully and creak down our old home's hallway and close the door behind me, leaving my two favorite guys sound asleep in their warm beds while I head out into the crisp air.

Sometimes the start is groggy and sluggish--have to admit it--but on the return I'm energized and thankful.  I feel the strength God has given me surging through my arms and legs, grateful for my lungs breathing deeply.  My heart rate quickens and my body does the amazing work of supporting the increased exertion I'm asking of it.  I find my spirits lifting as my feet pound the ground and the miles tick by.  I always notice the trees.  They change season by season, mirroring the continuing changes in my life as time marches on.  When running with a friend, I find encouragement in hearing her life journey and embrace the connection in conversation, sore muscles, and laughter.  By myself, I crank up the playlist on my iPod and JUST GO.

What do you do to play?  Have you made any time for it lately?


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