Holy Everything: When adult life threatens to depress, press 'play'
Face-painting, basketball, cartoons, waffles, art projects, Pizza Ranch, and coloring books. These words summarize just a few of the multitude of highlights from Cousin Weekend.
Last Friday, my cousin, Seth, and his kids, Layne and Layla, made their way from balmy Iowa up to the frozen northland to visit. We had 24 hours of fun, and our adventures pushed 2016 well into the awesome category.
There were so many bonuses of our time together. Like the fact that in 4-year-old Layla, I finally found someone who appreciates my sticker collection! And in 7-year-old Layne, someone who appreciates my ancient Playstation 2 gaming console and Dance Dance Revolution dance pads!
Not only that, these two actually requested my made-up songs! Like the classic "Coloring Song," which includes the following verse on repeat: "This is my coloring song. I sing it when I color." And my other hit, "Cousin Visit," which goes, "I'm so happy when my cousins visit. It makes me very glad." They really couldn't get enough! "Sing more, Emily! Sing it!" Thankfully I have an endless supply of nonsense songs streaming through my head at any given hour of any given day, so we never ran out of material.
We visited the Rochester children's museum and had a blast with the do-it-yourself face painting, center for making clay creations, and giant stump for snowball basketball. That place is pretty great!
I discovered during Cousin Weekend that playtime is more than a diversion. It's central to a vibrant life. Play is sacred stuff and of great benefit to all regardless of age. Play is about being fully present in the moment, observing the world with curiosity, and setting aside worries and agendas.
Time with Layne and Layla connected me to a core value that I often neglect. Play is a divine gift. It restores the soul.
It's certainly a special treat to get playtime in big doses, and if you have little ones at home, you probably do. But full days of Dance Dance Revolution and art projects aren't always possible. However, even in the busiest of times, we can incorporate play no matter our age.
Eat a handful of snow. Chase a squirrel. Put whipped cream on your bowl of morning Cheerios. Decorate your filing folders at work with glitter. Display your childhood baseball cards. Throw an impromptu two-minute dance party with your officemates. Leave a cheerful Post-It note on a public bathroom mirror. Color inside OR outside the lines of one of those newfangled adult coloring books.
Make space for play. It's a kind of prayer in motion. A way to say thanks for all the parts of life that write joy on our hearts.