They say “the creative adult is the child that survived.” Have you ever just sat and watched children play? They’re virtually fearless, unapologetically curious, and effortlessly creative—I LOVE THAT FOR THEM! But somehow as adults, we seem to forget the delight we had as children playing. Since having my daughter in March, I’ve spent much time reconnecting with my inner child (hey lil’ Wande!) and thinking about my core values. I’ve thought about my legacy, what I want to instill in her, and how I can be better TODAY. While all answers are not final, one thing I know for sure is that PLAY has become a non-negotiable part of my day. Now, I’m not talking about going out making mud pies or jumping off bunk beds or building blanket forts everyday, though those were definitely my “thing.” What I mean is that I make an effort to do something everyday that simultaneously feeds my curiosity, sparks a bit of fear and creates the ultimate delight.
I’ve spent a lot of my adult life living in fear…of being judged, of getting hurt, of being wrong…but lil’ Wande WOULD NEVER! She was bold, fun-loving, and quick to tell people “EMBRACE IT!” when they called her weird. Reconnecting with myself has been a fun, yet interesting journey. While I am still somewhat risk-averse, I wanted to share the strides I have taken and experiences I’ve had with nurturing myself and incorporating play over the past few months:
YOGA: So I know yoga has a reputation for being ultra-serious, and it is to an extent. However, yoga allows me to reconnect with my breath. It allows me to be in my body, feel my humanness, and recognize that every day is it’s own journey. I call it play because, when done right, yoga can be a mirror that allows you to greet yourself—your insecurities, limitations, and inner-tension—and literally breathe into them rather than avoiding them like they’ll go away (hint: they wont).
SKATING: I have so many fond memories of rollerblading around my basement with my younger sister when we were growing up. When we moved to a different neighborhood in middle school, I stopped skating. My husband got me a new pair of skates for my birthday last year and WOW! If fear and delight was a person, it would be me on roller skates. I’ve made it my mission to learn all the cool tricks I can (I swear there’s an IG/Youtube for EVERYTHING) so I can maintain my “cool mom” status when it’s time to teach my little one.
ROCK CLIMBING: I wasn’t always afraid of heights, but somewhere along the way, it definitely happened. I’ve been “meaning” to get over my fear for a while, but it was much easier to avoid. Well, on a recent family vacation, I decided to go for it. I kept telling myself, “Baby Z is watching you. You can’t teach her to live in fear, too!” So, one step and pull after another, I climbed the rock wall…and you know what the worst part was? Having to jump back down to the level I was my comfort zone at the end (hey, read that last sentence again…I’m on to something).
JUMPING ROPE: Once again, a childhood fave that I had been neglecting. Not only is it fun—it’s a great workout. That’s it—that’s the post 😊
FLIPPING: the same fear of heights that prevented me from rock climbing prevented me from flipping. This is odd because we had a trampoline in our backyard at my childhood home (yes, the same one where I skated). In fact, I was known for my crazy flip combos! All my memories are riddled with \ the neighborhood kids screaming, “Jump, Dede! Jump Dede!” Immediately after climbing the rock wall, I went over to the trampoline and decided to try my flips again. While it was much more of a mind game (because you mean to tell me I am going to flip upside down…in the air…with no control?!), I DID IT! I even stuck the landing the final time. I realized that much of the catastrophic anxiety I had about heights was simply made up. Relinquish control—you’ll be okay.
USING MY VOICE: How often do you read aloud? Or Sing aloud to no music? Or simply tune in to your own voice? Unless it’s what you do for a living, it can actually be pretty hard to get used to the sound. Part of why I embrace the arts is because they gave me a voice during a time in my life when I felt completely silenced. Although it’s much easier to paint a picture or pick up my instrument to play, I’ve made a point to use and get comfortable with my voice again. I sing all the time to anyone who will listen (mostly baby Z and my husband), and I even wrote a poem. Reading it aloud to myself was the most nerve-wrecking thing that I’ve done since facing stage fright in college before singing at Café Soul, but I did it. What kind of storyteller is unfamiliar and uncomfortable with her own voice? In order to amplify the voices and stories of others, I must tend my own first.
DANCING: I’ve told myself so many lies over the years, but one of the biggest that I’ve consistently told myself and others for at least the past decade: “I don’t dance.” THE LIIIIES! I honestly dance all the time. I was even in a dance company in college! But all the fears that I mentioned before tended to come up and I wouldn’t trust my body when eyes were on me *cue yoga and breath work*. What I love about dance is that it’s not calculated or even planned, it’s an intuitive act—somewhat primal even. Like yoga, dancing gets me deep into my body and lets me cut loose. God really knew what He was doing when my husband and I met because a day without dancing in our house now feels like a day without air.
RACING: I recently went go-carting, and to be honest, I don’t remember it being so fun! Racing brought out my innately competitive spirit and my gift of trash talk. It also helped me think about fear a bit differently. I started on the course like I was driving my car—not too fast on the curves, using my brakes as necessary—until I realized it was both the time and place to live my speedy dreams. I took my foot off the brakes indefinitely and gassed my way past everybody. By the end, I proclaimed myself as the master of “ALL GAS, NO BRAKES!”
SWITCHING IT UP: Fun fact: I was voted “best dressed” in high school. I’ve always loved clothes and fashion, but somewhere between having to wear suits everyday to work (old life), becoming a mom, and the pandemic, I was starting to lose my edge. I’m starting to experiment with my style for the fun of it and gave away of all my boring clothes. The best advice I’ve gotten so far: get your favorite clothing items whether they match or not, put them on, and strut it. YEP, instant mood booster. It’s also how I plan to get dressed from now on, because why not right?
CREATIVE EXPERIMENTS: My medium of choice with my artwork has been strictly limited to acrylic paint since my painting picked up in 2015. Well, I’m in the land of experimentation, and am proud to say I’m now working on my second oil painting. I’ve also grabbed watercolors and oil pastels, because honestly, I’m back in the studio and it’s time to spice things up. I hope you’re all ready for this magic!
Although this list is long, it’s not exhaustive. I just wanted to share how I’ve been making time to enjoy this life of mine. While everyday is not all rainbows and lollipops, we’re worthy of delight on a daily basis, regardless of what that looks like. I would love to hear how you’re incorporating play into your daily practice.
Last but not least, my recent series, SheROSE, was greatly sparked by my thoughts on play (and my muse Lenataa), fear and being in my body. Check it out and collect a limited-edition print if it resonates with you.