*Please note: while this title may make you think this is a political post, it is SO not! This is my annual “word of the year” post…and I hope you enjoy it.
If you play your cards right, you’ll…fill in the blank. The dictionary defines this cliché as “to do things in an intelligent and well-planned way.” As in, “if you play your cards right, you’ll get the job,” or anything along those lines.
So where exactly am I going with my punny title for this year’s “word of the year” post? I’m glad you asked.
When the next year is over—2020—it will be hindsight. (Another pun! So silly.) And I don’t want to look back and see that I have yet again still not prioritized play in my life like it needs to be. My ToDo list looms large over every day…and it feels like a pass/fail test…where failure is the norm.
Truth be told, when I was a kid, my mom made my having fun difficult. If someone invited me to do something, it was always an issue. She never made it easy, and I think because of that, I was kind of trained to avoid causing any issues by downsizing my quest for fun. Her impact continued into my adulthood where, after my father’s death when I had just turned 21, she made me feel guilty for doing anything that didn’t include her. Because of this, the fun I had in my 20s (and more) often included my mom, so…yeah. I had fun, but it was rarely carefree.
This is not to say that I do not know how to have fun or that I do not have fun. I love to laugh and have a good time. But I don’t do well at 1) prioritizing/planning for it or 2) not feeling guilty about it.
I’ve spent a lot of years being responsible to a fault. And now my ability to play needs to be amped up.
For instance, this year’s winter break was exceptional—I had more unscheduled and unstructured time than I have had since I was a kid. But I didn’t even know what to do to make the most of it! My guys and I all had time off, and we just hung out. Now, this was great—but there was more hanging and less doing than what I had envisioned. Typically, I feel too tired…and too used to taking the easier path of not prioritizing fun.
It’s like after years of not working out consistently, my flabby muscles are tired and resistant and don’t want to commit to the initial push needed to get back in the game.
This is why my word for 2020 (if you haven’t already figured it out) is…PLAY.
Studies show that play is critical to a healthy life. People like Dr. Stuart Brown have researched just how critical play is in our lives.
Our culture has demonized leisure time as something that only “losers” have. One of my favorite (NOT) responses when I ask someone if they are, say—watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”—is “Oh…I wish I had time to watch TV…”
Sorry, but some of us really need to get over ourselves.
A healthy work ethic does not have to directly correlate to a lack of fun ethic. It should not be a badge of honor to be so consumed with the HaveTos of life that we simply can’t let ourselves relax and watch a little TV.
And, honestly, while I have gotten better at ignoring this stigma toward playtime, I just kind of suck at making it happen. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even know what I think would be fun.
I want this to improve in 2020.
Now at the age of 52, finally playing with a full deck (get it?! 😊), too much of my life IS hindsight. I look in my life’s rearview mirror and know that I should have made it a point to make more fun stops along the way. And it is up to me to do that on the road ahead.
Play shouldn’t be a guilty detour. It should be a part of the drive that makes the journey all the better. Perhaps even a fuel that keeps us going in the right direction.
So I’m hoping to play my cards right this year—both literally (I enjoy card games!) and figuratively. My aim is to infuse my life with more purposeful play and to believe that it is not only fun…but right.
What do you say…are you game?