Kira Elliott How to Play

“The imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”― Brenda Ueland

The world is glowing golden today. Bright morning sun lights up the remaining yellow, orange and red leaves on the maples and oak outside my window. The trees are brilliant this year as they prepare to go dormant for the long dark winter. Today is a day that beckons me outside. After two weeks of being sick with a head cold, I want to ride my bike and take in the remaining moments of October. I want to feel the cool air rushing past me as my tires crunch through the thick carpet of leaves on the forest floor.

And I have a long list of things I need to get done. A list that by the time I get to the end, has grown with another 20 items. It is a bottomless list that taunts me with dreams of being good enough, if only I could cross off each item.

This list causes me to feel a heavy dread deep in my belly. It tightens my shoulders, clenches my jaw and grinds my teeth. This list stops my lungs from taking deep full breaths. I know this list so well, it is my normal. It is how I keep myself, and my joy, in check, from running amuck. It is how I try to prove I am good enough. Ironically this list feeds my internal not good enough feelings and never, ever, helps me feel good enough.

I am so used to this list of doing that most of the time I am not even aware of it operating in the background. I wake up and obediently follow it, completing each task in a numbed out stupor. At least that is how I felt by the end of the week last week. I had multiple engagements and meetings every night of the week. I had too many high stake grant presentations for my day job. When I woke on Friday morning, I didn’t feel any enthusiasm or joy for the coming day. I felt numb. The numbness of busy and doing too much.

I want more play and joy in my life. I want to spend my evenings and weekends doing more than recovering from a week of overworking and setting up my life so I do the same the next week.

Yet, play is a foreign land for me. I trying to learn the customs and language. I am trying to learn how to navigate this new terrain of doing something for no other reason than because it’s fun. This is a land where there is no striving, no not good enough,no achieving, but rather the goal is simply fun and joy. It is a land where it is okay to do things for no purpose. Where you can sit and stare out the window watching birds dance around the branches of the trees all day.

I don’t know much about play, but I do know when exhausted from doing too much, playing is out of the question. Nope, I am buckling down and plowing forward. I fall into the get it done mode. My internal task master comes out and hisses, “No none of that frivolous joy, there’s no time or energy for that crap.”

The feeling of time crunch from over scheduling is a play killer too. When my days and weeks are over scheduled, I feel like I am in the trash compactor from Star Wars and all sides of my life are crushing in on me. When that happens I throw play and joy out the window. I grasp hard onto my, I am getting it done mode, I am surviving mode.

Maybe that’s why this land of play is so hard for me inhabit—I am used to surviving. My life has been about surviving up until now. But today in my mid-forties, my life is calm. I am doing more than surviving. I have learned how to let go of unhealthy people who cause havoc and mayhem. There are no fires in my life now. Now I am trying to learn how to live without the constant flow of adrenaline and anxiety. I am trying to learn there is space for play and joy.

So how on earth how do I minimize the achievement quest so deeply embedded in my cells? Can I let go of the, get things done and everything has to have a purpose drive? This is a quest and drive to prove I am good enough. I wonder too, how do I not let play and joy become yet another item on my list of things to do? I don’t want play to simply become another check I can mark off my list saying, yes I did it in attempt to prove I am good enough.

I can finally play for play’s sake only I don’t know how. I feel weird and awkward. How do I do things with no purpose but to have fun? Yes, I have to get used to the idea of purposelessness.

Play is leaning into myself. It is kindness and tenderness—compassion. Play is slowing down and paying attention. I am committed to learning how to live in this new land of play and joy. I am committed to learning how to put down my to do list that tells me I am not good enough. Now all I have to do is keep trying and be willing to be uncomfortable. So I am going to go ride my bike today. I am going to savor the final golden leafs cascading to the damp earth.

This Week’s Inspiration To Open Your Heart

The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself And All The Women Around You by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Water Takes You As You Are by Rachel W. Cole

Meditation: Be Kind To Yourself by Kristin Neff

Surprised By Play by Becca Rowan

The Sanitized Stories We Tell By Sarah Bessey

Finally, two opportunities to engage with me and my work.

Open Hearted Wisdom Circle

I still have a few spots open in my Open Hearted Wisdom Circle on October 27th at 7:00 pm EST. In this circle we are going to discuss Cultivating Play and Rest, based on Guidepost #7 from The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. We will explore how we feel about play and rest, barriers in our lives to play and rest, and how we can create more opportunities in our lives for play and rest.  It is my hope you will connect with others and leave inspired to play and rest more in our lives. You find more information and how to sign up for for free HERE.

JL_2015-CRT-Kira-ElliottCreative Radiance Toolkit

Remember the post it notes on the back of my door to help me finish my e-book? Well it’s finished and I am honor to have it as part of a unique curated project that “pops up” next week on October 27th for just 72 hours. It’s called The Creative Radiance Toolkit and it’s a gorgeous collection of e-books, e-courses, music, audio and video experiences, intimate conversations, and writing prompts, all designed to help you create with more ease. With contributors like Danielle LaPorte, Brian Andreas, Flora Bowley, Lissa Rankin, Melody Ross, Susan Piver, Jen Louden, Sarah Selecky, and me (+ 21 more) and a ton of exclusive original content, this isn’t another bundle of stuff you’ll never use. Stay tuned for your personal invite October 27th!

May you find space in your life for more play and joy in the coming week. ~Kira