One Little Word: Play

One Little Word: Play

For the past three years, I’ve adopted a ‘word of the year’, to set the tone for each coming year and to encapsulate my goals and intentions for each year in one little word.

I can’t recall what word I settled on for 2014, but I know that I chose ‘breathe’ for 2015 and ‘balance’ for 2016 and, looking back, I can see how the overall feeling of each year really seems to play into those words. 2015 was a very difficult year for me, as I was diagnosed with clinical depression and had to work very hard to be a present mom and wife, not to mention a business owner, while battling dark thoughts on a daily basis. I did a lot of yoga to cope, and I also started going to a bible study group and making some more time for me. A little breathing room, if you will. I managed to find the right meds for me that helped me to cope with life a little better, but I found that I was an exhausted, stressed out, and overworked shadow of myself by the end of the year.

This led me to choosing ‘balance’ as my word for 2016, and although last year was also full of it’s own challenges, once I started reflecting on the year gone by, I realised that I’d definitely made some progress in terms of finding some more balance. I whittled down my list of work clients so that I was able to manage my workload comfortably on my own, while still managing to take off the occasional afternoon to spend some quality time with Beanie. At the beginning of 2016, my marriage wasn’t in the best place and my husband often mentioned that he felt neglected by me – that I spent all my time and energy on work and Beanie, which left very little time for him. Although I don’t have it all quite sussed just yet, I’m so happy with where we are today; heaven knows we could certainly do with more date nights, but I feel as though I’ve succeeded in making more time for my husband and our marriage. We’re definitely in a better place than we were last year this time, that’s for sure!

One of the things that sticks out most in my mind when thinking back to conversations my husband and I had towards the beginning of 2016, is the realisation that I’ve become so burdened with feelings of responsibility since becoming a mom that it’s almost as though I’ve forgotten how to have fun. I’ve always got a running to-do list at the back of my mind, and I’m so preoccupied with getting everything done that I rarely stop to have a little fun.

Something else that’s been bothering me in recent months is the fact that I seem to have forgotten how to play. I’ve often caught myself telling friends that I’m the nurturing parent – the one Beanie comes to when he needs a little cuddle or some TLC – while my husband is the playful parent. He could happily spend hours building Lego with Beanie, chasing him around the garden, or having mini wrestling matches on the bed (usually to the soundtrack of me telling them to stop making so much noise. See? I told you that I’m no fun!) The number of times that I’ve caught myself scrolling through Instagram while I’m supposed to be playing with Beanie is far too high – I’d much rather just lie down and have a little snuggle, otherwise I’ve got other things to get on with, ok? I really don’t like that about myself!

So, when it came to choosing my word for 2017, it seems as though ‘play’ was the obvious choice, right? Truth be told, I had several other options in mind until I finally settled on play – and I’ll admit that I really didn’t want to settle on play. I guess I just don’t think of myself as a fun, playful person. Being playful involves trying new things and pushing boundaries, when I’d rather just play it safe (pun not intended!) and keep doing the things I’ve always done. The problem with that is that things will never, ever change if you keep doing the things you’ve always done… life is all about pushing boundaries, exploring and experiencing new things!

Some of the words I had in mind to begin with included simplify, dream, and explore, but I just couldn’t ignore the fact that the word ‘play’ kept popping up in my mind, and the more I thought about it, the more sense it made: one of my biggest intentions for 2017 is to spend more quality time with Beanie, and to really get down on his level and play. I’d also like to play around in terms of my career and my business to find what it is that I really love doing, and to focus more on that. This will require plenty of soul-searching, but it also means that I’ll need to try new things, learn a few more skills and broaden my horizons. In a nutshell? Play around!

Another big intention for 2017 is to move more. Considering the fact that yoga was such a huge part of my life in 2015, it pains me to say that I attended all of two formal yoga classes throughout the course of 2016. Yes, there was some home practice, but I’d really like to get back into the swing of things and to develop my practice further in 2017… and this means playing around with different styles and attending more classes. I’d also like to go for more regular walks with my family, and I’d like to do the occasional weekend hike as well. I just want to be outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, looking at nature’s beauty and having fun!

Something not many people know is that I did ballet for fifteen years. FIFTEEN YEARS! That’s half my life, but I haven’t danced seriously for over ten years now, and I haven’t been to a ballet class since I was 24. It didn’t bother me at all for many years, but it’s been gnawing away at me lately. I still find myself doing plies while waiting for the kettle to boil and practising rises while standing in a queue; it’s still so much a part of my body’s memory, and it’s something that I can’t put off any longer. I’m desperate to relive my childhood and to start attending ballet lessons again this year. When I was younger, many people often commented on how it was a good thing for young children to do as it teaches self-discipline, but now I’d like to take up ballet once again for opposite reasons: to learn how to play again. To be wild and free and young. 

I’m tired of taking myself – and life – so seriously. I’m tired of waking up each morning with the sole purpose of getting to the end of my to-do list. It’s draining and it brings me no joy. I know that 2017 is going to be a far better year that 2016 was because I’m going to make sure that it is: I’m going to stop taking myself so seriously and I’m going to put my family’s wellbeing first. We’re going to go on long walks and spend lots of time outdoors, and I’ll be sure to schedule in some time for living room dance parties. And I’m actually going to dance and not care what I look like. Bring it on, 2017 – let’s play! 

PS: Have you heard about the ‘Simplify Your Life in 28 Days’ challenge? It kicks off on 3 January 2017 and is all about identifying those things that matter most to you and letting go of the rest for a simpler, more meaningful life. Click here to find out more and to sign up.