Having fun

Knock, knock…..”can Debbie come out to play?”

Debbie was my best friend when I was 8 years old. We used to play hide and seek, kick the can, Barbies, yahtze and lots of card games. We read comics and Nancy Drew books. And we played records all the time: the Beatles, the Monkeys, and of course, Herman’s Hermits! Our favorite activity was to pull out the old trunk, dress up in wild outfits, and put on shows for our family and friends down in Debbie’s basement. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t sing a note (and still can’t!) I always opened each show with Petula Clark’s “Downtown, downtown…” And then Debbie, my sister and I would always close the show as Diana Ross and the Supremes, performing “STOP! In the name of love/before you break my heart. STOP!” We were awesome, just ask us!

Recently I started to think about fun – when did I stop singing in public for example? The first birthday party when the other kids laughed at my tone deaf attempts? After I found out that my mike was turned off for class musicals? WHEN did it start to matter? DOES it matter? And then I realized……NO, it Doesn’t Matter!

How can we bring back our childlike sense of fun? One of the ways is to play again. Start with make believe, for example.

Do you remember Carole King’s famous album Tapestry? Tomorrow morning, when you’re combing your hair, take your comb and use it as a microphone. Serenade yourself: “You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face/and show the world all the love in your heart/then people going to treat you better/you’re going to find yes you will/that you’re beautiful as you feel” What a great way to start your day!

Is your life full of boring, mundane tasks and responsibilities? Try making a game out of things you don’t like. For example, when I’m straightening out the house I make a game of returning one thing to its rightful room, finding something in that room to do or take to another room, and so on. Sometimes I end up doing something I’ve been procrastinating about for days, simply to keep my game going!

Or take exercise for example. Instead of promising yourself you will work out 2 or 3 times a week, decide on the number of minutes per week you will commit to. I’ve promised myself I will do 360 minutes per week. The other day I found myself at an appointment way too early so I went for a 20 minute walk. I keep a calendar in my work out room where I record minutes completed and minutes left – it’s a game that keeps me motivated….for now! When your “game” doesn’t work any more, make up a new one….just like you did when you were a child!

How about taking a class, just for fun! Two years ago, I signed up for a beginner’s painting class called Art for the Totally Intimidated. Although it was supposed to be for beginners, I quickly found out that I was the only one who didn’t know that red came in more than one shade! Most of the students were retired women who had painted together for years and had signed up because they really liked the instructor. One day, we were told that our next class would be about still life painting and we were instructed to bring something we would like to paint. Sure enough, my fellow students arrived the following week with amazing sculptures, beautiful flower arrangements, and carefully arranged bowls of fruit. I showed up with… my granddaughter’s Fisher Price phone – to remind myself that this was supposed to be fun! And it was!

This year I signed up for another beginner class. This time I was surrounded by much younger women, some with tattoos, brilliant hair, fascinating body piercing, and wild outfits. It was just like being back in Debbie’s basement again! Only this time, we were taking…….belly dancing!

Can I sing? Yes, about four notes. Can I paint? Yes, by number. Can I belly dance? Yes, by myself in a pitch black room. Does it matter? No, I’m having fun again!

So tomorrow morning, before you comb your hair and serenade yourself, knock on the mirror and ask ‘can you come out to play?’ Say YES!!!