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The reasons you need to consider your childhood play

What did you enjoy doing as a child? Do you continue to do any of the things that brought you joy? If you haven’t, take a few moments to conjure up some childhood memories because we’re about to take a trip down memory lane.

The early years

Being the oldest of four children with my closest sibling being 13 months younger than me, I had a built-in playmate for my entire childhood. When my next two siblings came along, I was 7 and 9 years older and a built-in babysitter.

Types of play

The activities I gravitated toward were organizing and running games for my younger siblings, playing house, playing school, taking pictures of everything (I got my first camera as a Christmas gift when I was in the 2nd grade), and writing plays that I would cast my closest sister in. I remember writing pages of script, handing it to her, and then directing her to perform. I, however, always went improv. When her lines would run out I would tell her, “now just make the rest up”. We made elaborate signs and posters that we hung up on the refrigerator and posted in front of my parents’ faces inviting them to attend our plays. I also remember pretending I was a preacher or speaker and stood behind our large TV and imparted words of influence and inspiration to my crowd of one, again my closest sister.

My sister was a trooper. I loved playing G.I. Joe and She-ra and she adored Barbies. I remember more than once making deals with her where we would play part of the day with Barbies (her choice) and the other part of the day playing school/theater/games/G.I. Joe (my choice). I dreamt about being a mom to five children and being a teacher.

How play influenced my life path

Turns out I’m a mom to three children and a school psychologist. For what it’s worth, contrary to what you may suspect, my sister did not turn out to become a fashionista or makeup artist, but rather a nurse anesthetist. However, she does own probably three times the clothing that I do and has tried out more face and cosmetic products than I ever will, undoubtedly tied to Barbie’s influence. 😉

How much of what we feel drawn to play and create as children do we hone as we get older? While it seems that I followed a path that was similar to the activities I engaged in as a child, there were some that got left behind. When I began this archeological dig of the fossils of my past, I sat with these artifacts and realized some were left to collect dust while others shined. The parts of me that were polished were somewhat at the expense of the others. I think this is pretty typical. We have to focus eventually. My focus of many years has been growing my family and working in a school system. The areas that I’m slowly brushing off, pulling from the dirt, are those other parts of me that are clawing at the dirt, shaking off, stretching for daylight.

Looking back to look forward

While I don’t feel inclined to write plays or act in a theater production, I do yearn to write and read my writing to others. I enjoy speaking and providing inspiration and would like to grow my skills in these areas and become more impactful in these activities. I continue to take photos and have even done some paid work for others. While it’s been easy to use my children as subjects of much of my photos, capturing their many expressions and moments over the years, I am also intrigued by the beauty of nature and the simplicity of the small pieces that make up a larger scene. As you can tell, I’m following these interests now with more fervor than ever before, resurrecting these pieces of my childhood that remain after all these years waiting for their turn to receive consideration.

The spark is whispering to you

Whatever it is that you enjoyed doing as a child when left to your own devices, are likely still present today. If you haven’t thought about it, it is worth reflection. If there are parts of you that you have stopped feeding, it is likely they continue to whisper to you today, desperate– “remember me?” hoping that they may fuel you again in ways that made you feel alive and brought you unbridled joy. Reconnecting with your inner child could provide you a long-awaited spark to an undisturbed routine waiting for a shakeup.

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