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is founder and president of the National Institute for Play near Monterey, California. He is co-author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.

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Animals at Play

[audio slideshow, 2:20]
Anyone who has a pet can testify that play is not exclusive to humans. And, in the wild, different species often are at odds. But, Stuart Brown witnessed something different. Here, he describes Norbert Rosing's striking images of a wild polar bear playing with sled dogs in the wilds of Canada's Hudson Bay.

Fellowship of the Rings

[audio slideshow, 2:51]
Stuart Brown pointed out that play can manifest itself in many ways: reading, hiking, painting…. For some adults in Santa Monica, the traveling rings on Muscle Beach not only offer exercise but a chance to resolve the angst of their workdays with the serenity of swinging in a beautiful setting.

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114Reflections

Reflections

My apologies for this unedited work.

I have a philosophy of play that has developed over the years I've worked with children in and out of the context of preschool, church, and church camp contexts. For our culture today, I am struck by the dichotomy between the cares of the world and our nation and the life of a child. The following poem encapsulates for me a centering prayer for children and for the world, as well as echoes some of my philosophy of play today:

I will not play at war no more
I will only play at peace.
For if I play at war some more
The guns will never cease. ~ stc

In preparation for my own work with children in the context of faith, one assignment was to come up with a philosophy of play. The following brief statements and comments also shape the role of play for me as a Christian educator.

I believe in God the Playmate, Maker of every kind of place to play and every kind of playmate, both the visible and invisible.
As God's children, we are called into fellowship with one another and to be as a family: Both to live together as one and to work together in fun; at camp, at home, at school or at work, no matter where we stay or what we play.

I believe in Jesus Christ, our friend at all times, who is with us when we are sad, mad, and glad. He helps us to love all our playmates, even when it is hard.
As we seek to know one another, we can/may feel sadness, anger, or happiness. It is easy to play with others when we are happy, but sometimes it is hard for us to play with one another when we are grieving, lonely or scared. Some times it is hard to be with those we play and love when we are hurt or angry at things we have seen, felt, or heard. But even then Jesus is our friend and can be with us to cheer us up, until we are ready to play again.

I believe the Holy Spirit allows us to have fellowship companionably. Without fear of competitive games that make some losers, some winners, I believe we can be more in harmony with the Spirit and each other.
As children of God, we have also been given to each other as brothers and sisters. I believe the best choice is to choose to let each other know we care about one another's presence by giving each other positive regard in our play. We can choose to be inclusive and seek to share our gifts and talents with one another in such ways that everyone can play, and everyone can enjoy being a part of the fun in fellowship.

I believe that God also made us to share how we play and live our lives with others.
When we learn how to play, it helps us to remember it even better when we in turn teach what we've learned to others. Therefore, as children of God, we are not only playmates, but also teachers to one anther. We can share what we have gleaned in our walks of life to those we play with, teaching them and playing with them until they are able to also teach it to others. Then we can take our turn learning from them, fellowshipping in communion and love. ~stc

Let me refer to a time when I worked in early childhood education. For preschool aged children, play is life, play is their reality, and that is the natural language they speak; a time where the amazing stages of parallel play shift to the growing awareness of others around them and interactive play. It is a time of awakening, where children try out different roles in life through active play. It marks the stage of brain development where active dendrite growth peaks.

I think forms of play have largely remained the same; except for the growing edge of digital play, which actually takes the themes behind forms of play and puts them into unreal, physically passive contexts.

Forms of play still seem to remain along the themes of good guys, bad guys (especially through elementary school), trying on new roles (preschool dress-up clothes), and exploring creative expression from art expressions to imaginative play. The deeper issues behind these themes and forms of play include the foundations behind all human experience: the basic needs for each individual once the physiological ones are taken care of. These include safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization (Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs).

As a child, my own forms of play especially centered on creative expression. I would become any number of animals and/or their keepers fanciful and real with my little sister and act out their lives according to our creative minds. On my own with peers, I would tramp through woods and trails, make forts under trees, or on the other end of the spectrum, create whole space cities with Space Legos.

Today, looking back on how as a teacher I facilitated play for my preschoolers, the philosophy undergirding our school's principals focused on community, making choices that upheld community and experiencing logical consequences when choices were made that broke down community. Creative expression was celebrated, from story dictation to daily art projects to active imaginative play indoors and outdoors.
When I visit my old school today, I can step right back into this whole-child philosophy of discovery learning.

These memories shape my approach to life today in that I have a special place in my heart for early childhood development and look forward to being a parent someday; where I can once again exercise my imaginative side in understanding (or trying to!) life through the eyes of a child. In my professional life, without an understanding of discovery play, I would not have explored so many of my own options in settling on vocational choices. Play is and was essential, and I don't mean the digital kind!

Hi, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, superb blog!

Trent Gilliss's picture

Thanks, Edwina. We do have some display issues with IE7 and are slowly working on it.

As a theatre teacher who works with both adults and children I have the privilege of witnessing the similarities and differences in how we play at various ages. To play is to experiment, to try out, and to pretend. We don’t have to take ourselves, our ideas, our creations so seriously because we are “only playing”. There is room to fail. Or this is how we would hope it would be.
However, it saddens me greatly to see children explore and invent with such freedom and then have an adult come to my class and stand awkwardly before me, uncertain of what to do. I have to remind them again and again that we are only playing. They cannot fail. But somehow all the expectations to be good, to do it right get in the way of our natural inventiveness. I have never understood why we have to stop playing. What makes us decide; somewhere around puberty that playing is “not cool”? Obviously social pressures and the fear of embarrassment most likely have something to do with it.
But to me playing is an essential part of life. We don’t stop learning and exploring and so why should we stop playing and experimenting safely together?
When I teach I aim to allow students, above all, a safe place to play. The nature of play is to come together with others and experience joy as we discover more about life and the world. What could be more spiritual?

Play has shaped the parent I am now:

My eight-year-old daughter Adella played a beautiful game of basketball last season. She, as my neighbor who knows all sports puts it, is a great "ball handler." She can dribble that thing any way you want it and get it the hoop so a teammate with upper-body strength can shoot the thing. She's a fast-moving and coordinated 48-pound third-grader.

So why was she crying into her pillow an hour after the game?

Because No. 5 from the opposing team told her she hated her for guarding her and taunted her every time they were near each other on the court. The "I hate you" did in a little girl who seldom hears those words and never before has heard them directed at her.

Dad to the rescue: "That's trash talk, and it's unsportsmanlike. You give her a trash talk smile and let it go." Men are smart, practical, and in the moment. When the moment's gone, so is the problem. Oh, to be a man....

The tears continue; so does dad: "Players do that to get inside your head because if you're thinking about them and what they're saying, you're not doing what you're supposed to do--which is play the game. Don't let her in."

Ah yes, dear, but girls don't forget quite so quickly. Next morning Della says to me over breakfast: "Did you notice she played out of bounds most of the game?"

Me to Della: "Yup, Because people who talk trash play trash, too."

"How come her coach didn't say anything?"

Mother to daughter: "Winning is everything in that town, and that's what they teach. Your father teaches you to play well, and that little jerk couldn't handle you."

How is it a stranger, a nobody in my daughter's cosmology, could rob her of joy so swiftly? How is it cruel people--people who tell us we're worthless, who use us, who badmouth us behind our backs and insult us to our faces--have so much influence on the quality of our experiences?

My daughter will never forget No. 5 and trash talk. Will my daughter remember that No. 5's team won by 28 points and could have afforded to be kind? I won't let her forget that cruel people do business wholesale.

No. 5 didn't have it in her. My sensitive little girl does, though. Please God, we will build her up good and strong so nasty blow-ins won't hem her into a life of fear of abuse.

Hello ~ As school children in the 1950s, we were sent out to play "on the noon hour" everyday no matter what the weather - and it snowed, rained and scorched. It was the best part of the day even though it was tough. I remember standing in Mary Catlin's coat to stay warm. I was very little and my fingers froze. Our teachers, Sisters of St. Joseph in full habit, put on shawls and skidded down long ice chutes with black robes flowing. We played every game - pom-pom-pullaway; red-rover-red rover; dodge ball; witch-steals-the-child. We monitored ourselves on the playground - some kids were 'mothers' to others. We played our hearts out, never looked back, loved each other and let everyone play.

Here is a poem I wrote about those days about the playground at Our Mother of Sorrows Elementary School about 1954. We played in and around the cemetery and church and under full-size statues of saints and the crucifixion. The 150-year-old church was used to hide escaped slaves, the KKK burned a cross on the rectory lawn in the 1920s - it is the oldest, rural Catholic [Irish] church in New York State - built on Paddy Hill about 10 miles northwest of Rochester.

Sacred to the Memory

Slater, Sheehan, Byrne
chipmunks scatter across your names.

McGuire, Maio, Fleming
green jumpers, tan blouses
all sitting
eyes forward
hands folded
feet flat on the floor.

Cleary, Larkin, Lafferty, McShea
ice slides, black flowing
habits skidding on boots
across the fields of snow.

Farnan, Beatty, Brennan
David, Mary Jane, Janice.
Sister Jeannine, Sister Mary Alacquo.
Mary Catlin let me stand in her coat
on the noon hour.

McMannis, Roberts, O’Rourke
Helen, Bill and Stoney
secret place in the upstairs bedroom
for the underground railroad.
Leonard, Margaret and Mary Jean
Theresa of the Little Flower.

Today I read the names
scratched in the bricks
where the heart-knifed lady once stood
as we played briefly under her rose-petaled feet.
where the cross was our friend,
and the mother of sorrows
cradled the head of her son in her lap.

Barbara Lamb Carder, 2000

Brings back the fondest of memories, only my school was St. Ann's and the nuns were Sisters of St. Ann! Best years of my life ever growing up! Thank-you for your post.

I'm 45 years old and I have recently rediscovered an aspect of play I'd forgotten about -- role playing. There are costume parties year-round now in New York city, and I've found that it's surprisingly good fun to dress up as someone with an ostensibly different personality -- a pirate, or a billionaire or a dancer. But beyond just the fun, I began to notice that the role-play had an effect on my everyday life. It seems to exercise the parts of my psyche that I keep under wraps all the time, thus leaving my core self more calm and centered when it's time to go to the office or dinner. There's a pirate and a billionaire and a dancer inside me all the time, and it behooves me to let them out once in a wile.

Since 1983 I've been learning to be a clown.
In 1984 I started teaching clown workshops.
At one workshop at the university I was attending, I had about 10 participants. One of the games we played was lieing right next to each other in a line on the gynmasium floor. From one end of the line, we took turns rolling over the others in the group.
Later in the workshop one of the men was startled to hear that some of the women in the group were members of a Catholic order.
The next time I invited him to a workshop he said firmly, "No rolling over nuns!"

In my first year of ministry, I am continually drawn back to a moment in seminary that has served as the genesis for my own (re)thinking of play.

I was taking an experimental preaching course on the spatial elements of the Book of Acts. Each week we were asked to "occupy" (literally and metaphorically) a different space associated with a particular text. From these places we were to write, respond, and preach. On the very first day, we met in the quad rather than a stale classroom. As the class began, a large parachute was unfolded before us, the kind we all remembered from our elementary school days.

"What should we do?" asked the professor.

Slowly, our memories sprang our bodies into action and it wasn't long before we were taking turns teaching and indeed playing our favorite parachute games.

The exercise was never explained, never processed. Later, half way through the course we were brought in one by one to let the professors know how it was going. I told them, one a preaching professor and the other a New Testament and ritual scholar, that I was happier during that class time than any time I could remember in recent years. "It's like holy play," I said.

The ritual theorists perked up and remarked that play was considered the highest form of ritual.

Play has become my hermeneutic for both preaching, study, and in many ways life. Now, working with youth at a church I see that we're raising a generation that does not know how to play, how to flirt between freedom and structure, who does not know the poetry and jazz and playfulness that makes up the created "order."

I would wager to say that while one can understand faith without being playful, one can not have it unless one understands the give and take, the unpredictable pitfall and grace that constitutes the fabric of play.

Rob McClellan
Associate Pastor for Youth, Their Families, and College Ministries
Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church

This is not my story, but I wonder if this obituary will be of interest to you re your upcoming program. Particularly the last line...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/20/us/20engressia.html?_r=2&ref=obituarie...

It is not only memories of play tht shape who I am now, or affect my approach to life. It is what I do after work - now - every Tuesday and Thursday. As a parent, I am glad my children see what I do and how much it means to me.

My story doesn't include any rough-and-tumble, because it is about play among grownups. It is actually a structured kind of play, but I thought of it when I heard your solicitation for stories because I once described it to a friend as "my ministry." I am a Quaker, which not alot of my dance students know, but in our religion we've done away with the laity and all consider ourselves to be ministers or potential ministers, vocal or otherwise. So when I share my gifts with people, it is my ministry.

In the course of maintaining physical fitness, there are obvious health benefits. But when I teach a dance/fitness class, I teach it straight from the heart for non-fitness reasons. There are so many pressures on normal people today. I teach my class like a respite from all of that. I never make comments about body fat content or bathing suit season or keeping off the holiday pounds. I don't need that fear-based motivation. I may refer to the holidays or stress in general. But my comments about the body are along the lines of how well it responds to exercise and how to do it safely. When I say, as I often do, "Your glutes are gonna love you for all those squats," I don't really say why. The music keeps going and I don't have time, but I really mean much besides controlling fat and building muscle. I think it builds self-esteem for people to be fit. And to take the time away from family, home, etc simply to go to fitness class - sometimes that takes strength too. To begin certainly takes courage.

My classes are corporate, so I have to keep my own faith out of it. But I do feel that, as a person here on earth, I have something to share and those are my gifts. We each have a gift or gifts. It is by teaching dance/exercise that I have found a way to share mine. I enjoy my own gift so much more when I use it to lead classes that are good for other people. I hope very much that, as a result, there is a moment here or there when people in class feel more aware of their own gifts. Or at least a break from the pressures of our lives that may form a barrier between a person's everyday identity and the sweet, covering, and consuming contact with what I call grace, or the reason for being here on earth.

I think I am not alone in thinking about the past and the future so much that I lose the opportunity to live in the present. That is one thing that dancing in class gives us. You can't think about the past or the present when you are keeping up with the dance routine. You don't have a choice but to live in the moment. Thanks for asking.

Play, i.e., making forts, running, twirling, skipping, and making up scenarious, even gathering at night to play "kick the can," dancing, being silly, all elicit joy, pleasure and inspire confidence and hope, both now and as a child.
I discovered a renewal of play in my adult life when I started to join other adults in InterPlay. I became a leader in InterPlay, where story, movement, sound and stillness are paths to spontaneity and play. New ideas and relationships, deep laughter ease and grace have been the gifts that have convinced me I MUST PLAY to stay healthy and happy.

(InterPlay is an international movement and can be accessed at interplay.org.)

In my lifetime, I have seen the full circle, from neighborhood games of hide and seek and kick the can with everyone playing, to the extreme of playing video games alone, back to encouraging free-form neighborhood games and social connection. I think that games that taught leadership, caused us to be creative and cunning, games that involved physical, psychological, emotional, and social elements led to self esteem and confidence later in life. We organized our own play, it was not some date chosen by our parents. I encouraged my son away from solitary, video-oriented experiences, instead to play physical games, chess, board games, and card games that encouraged strategic and critical thinking. Twelve years ago I left a carear in investment management to become a child psychologist and play therapist. I spend my days helping children play through trauma, grief and loss from death, divorce, and adoption. I find my best work is often teaching parents how to play with their children to rebuild their relationships. There is no better way to connect with a sullen teenager than through their own game. When I played with my children and my adolescents, I learned their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, and molded their characters. Being a play therapist has made my life rich in the smiles of children, the appreciation of parents, and the improvement of my community, all through the healing power of play.

I used to play at sports and swim to fill time and be with people. I played with wires and making things.
I am not afraid to take things apart and do things that may be risky.

I think play is the ability to imagine things differently and not feel locked in. Play is the slack in life. The way that newness can most easlity come into life. That is why play is usually fun.

Hello my name is Phil Johnson I am currently working on my Phd at the University of Iowa. For my research I am attempting to look at play from an evolutionary perspective and investigate how play has shaped the mammalian brain and more specifically how a lack of play in humans can lead to a loss of neuroplasticity which is associated with all kinds of psychopathologies. In its essence "play" can not be understood as an activity but must be recognized as a mental or neurophysiological state. When approached from this direction it becomes apparent that play can exist in virtually any circumstance or any experience as long as there is an absence of fear or threat. If one is to look at the purpose of play in the evolution of the mammalian lineage there is no doubt that play has been THE fundamental characteristic or quality that has given homo sapiens their ability to think creatively, imaginatively, etc. The Dutch thinker Johan Huizinga was correct in his labeling humans as Homo Ludens as opposed to Homo Sapien. Play is the most important aspect of human life but has yet to be appreciated. It will take extremely intelligent people to grasp this concept but eventually it will change the landscape of every human society on earth.

Play has helped me look at life as a challenge and a choice. As a kid I did it just for the fun of it but now as an adult I do it as a choice to always remind myself to have fun no matter how busy I may get. One of my favorite things is our weekly tag team nights. We do things like play freeze tag, dodge ball and most recently laser tag, which is a game I played often as a kid. I particularly like laser tag because I am a peace educator and it helps me remember and understand how play combat can be enjoyed when it is just a game and not thought of as glorifying violence as a problem solving method. Its important not to take oneself too seriously and understand the positive aspects of combat games such as the building of decision-making, leadership and teamwork skills under pressure.

PLAYFULNESS — HEAVEN'S BEST SECRET

First Congregational Church
Greenwich, Connecticut
August 12, 2007
Rev. Alexander Harper

The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. —Exodus 32.6

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; that my soul may praise thee and not be silent. —Psalm 30.11

David danced before the Lord with all his might . . .Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. —Samuel 6.16

A Parable

IMAGINE that the great Day of Judgment has come. Now your turn has come at last. You find yourself standing before the throne of heaven. You're asked what were the most significant things you ever did on earth. After you stop trembling and your teeth stop chattering, what do you think you might answer? What was most important in the days of your years on this earth? You might remember your work, some of the ways in which you bore your share of the world's labor. You might recall your friendships, those you loved. You might report your worship of God, your loyalty to the church of Jesus Christ. All those sound respectable, even a little noble.

When you've finished, God looks at you and smiles, with what for all the world looks like a twinkle in a divine eye. Then the Voice from the throne asks, "Didn't you ever play?"

You can't quite believe what you think you heard. Surely, on this most awesome of occasions, the God of heaven and earth couldn't have asked that. "I fear I heard you wrong, Lord. Did you ask if I ever prayed?"

"No, played," replies the great Voice, with an eye still twinkling. "Didn't you ever take a vacation from seriousness, let down your hair, trip the light fantastic?"

"Well, yes, of course, Lord," you answer, still flustered and puzzled. "I played, but mostly as a child. Grown up, well. a little poker (low stakes), a little golf (well, a lot), races with my 50-foot powerboat. I certainly didn't think that would be important here!"

The great head above the throne shook slowly — not up and down but from side to side, head in hand.

That's the end of my parable, but not the end of the serious question embedded in it: Have you ever played? If you've grown up, do you still take time to play? Can you be playful without embarrassment and apology? Of course, everything has its time and place. Writes Ecclesiastes (3.1-3): There is . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Or have we grown so stiff and formal, so captive to a sober-sides image of adulthood, that we've forgotten how to play with abandon -- without looking at watches and fearing that we're "wasting time," "being silly" and "forgetting our age"?

I'll make a confession to you: ministers are especially prone to this disease we can call "rickets of the playful joints." But you knew this anyway. Whether ministers naturally speak, dress and act with such rectitude, or whether we're like that because people expect it, the clergy image is heavy with solemnity. Just look at this black robe!

You may have the same problem as you grow older. If so, beware! A wise Boston physician, Dr. Richard Cabot, once said, "We do not grow old because of years or lack of exercise; we grow old because we lose our ability to play."

Play and Religion: Friends or Enemies?
Why on earth should a sermon deal with play anyway? Didn't we come to church (wiping the smile from our face) to worship, not to play? You'd rightly resent it if I turned our service into a game of hop-scotch or indoor baseball. Eyebrows are still raised at clowns in church or balloons on Easter or Pentecost. (I should know: my late wife Jean (some of you knew her) was such a clown.)

Yet worship includes reflection on how God sees and wills our life, our whole life and not just our prayer times. Play is indispensable to wholeness of life; it's just as vital as love and work and worship. Without play, they go sour too. In the right time and place, and in rhythm with the rest of life, play is as necessary as the air we breathe and the food we eat.

Surprising to some, the Bible affirms the importance of play for adults and not just for children. To be sure, the prophets often show a profound uneasiness about "playing like the pagans."

Consider one example: In the book of Exodus, the Israelites are camped beneath Mt. Sinai. They've been waiting for weeks for Moses to come down the mountain. The Bible describes their routine: The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Now Moses is uneasy when he sees them playing, but largely because they were picking up other pagan habits as well. Idolatry is what he fears, not playfulness. Worship of false gods is what does you in, not games. On the other hand, Moses may have been a sourpuss.

Later in the Second Book of Samuel, we encounter King David before the famous Ark of the Covenant, that "portable church" the Hebrews carried on their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. What does David do at the ark, before the Holy of holies? How does he worship?

And David danced before the Lord with all his might.

He danced! He worshipped with artful play. But Michal, David’s wife, a puritanical princess, spots David. He’s stripped down for strenuous body movement in sacred dance. She scolds him mightily for what she thinks blasphemy. For her, dance and play are enemies of religion.

Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. (6.16)

Poor Michal! Dance and play are at once natural, human, profound as well as delightful. But the Michals of the world don't know it. There are always misguided souls embarrassed to have a smile on their faces, a twinkle in their eyes, or a joyful lilt in their step. Such sourpuss party-poopers have forgotten that deep, double wisdom of Ecclesiastes: There is a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Jesus and Playfulness

Notice how Jesus makes reference to play in his teachings. He must have known children's games firsthand from his own childhood in Nazareth. He likens many adults of his day to children quarreling and pouting about what to play. They can't even get together on a single game. Those of this generation, says Jesus sadly,are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, "We piped to you, and you didn't dance." "We wailed, and you didn't weep." (Luke 7.32)

I suspect Jesus was referring to those delightful imitations which kids of every age play as they copy adult behavior. He’s talking about kids playing “weddings” and “funerals.”
Jesus seems to mean something like this: "Alas, dear friends, you're missing God's signals for the game of life—by fighting over who calls the tune, who names the game. For a wedding or wedding-game, pipers pipe the tune and that's the signal to dance. For a funeral or funeral-game, someone starts the mourning, and then we weep with him or her. But you, it seems, can neither rejoice nor weep. You may miss God's kingdom if you don't watch out!"

A Foretaste of Heaven

Now I dare to make an even bolder proposal: Play, more than work, is a foretaste of heaven. You may be closest to the kingdom of God, not when you're working your fingers to the bone and hating it, but when you're playing with abandon and delight and loving it.

For one it may be baseball, for another a game of checkers or chess. For you it may be folk-singing, for me playing the viola in a string quartet. For one it might be a bridge group or weekend painting, for another devouring a novel, still another an evening in a discotheque, or sitting around swapping jokes.

For our soul's sake, getting away from the grind on a little vacation is necessary for most of us at least once a year, with a few weekends away in other seasons. Whatever your play or art (play and art are kissing cousins), lose yourself from time to time in something delightful, something worth doing for its own sake

Do something, but not for the sake of a pay check or someone's opinion of you. Let yourself go in the joy of something absolutely impractical, and just for the fun of it. Don't try to justify it as edifying or "educational" -- as we say when we buy toys.

When you can do that, when you can play with conviviality, you're close indeed to the kingdom of God. You're actually practicing for the great Day when all is fulfilled, all battles won, all hurts healed, all noble dreams realized.

Then what will you do? The hope we're given is to live with all redeemable souls, giving and receiving freely with one another in the dance of a life fulfilled -- all in the light and with the music of the presence of God.

Fruit of a Lifetime

When retirement from paid employment comes -- in mid-sixties for most of us -- the saddest sight I know is those who have nothing to do that doesn't bore them to death. Their lives, and sometimes their marriages, fall apart. Once-happy husbands at the office now drive their wives up the wall by hanging around the house, useless, petulant and usually in a supervisory mood. They never learned to play, or if they did, they forgot how and left "all that" behind with childhood.

By contrast, the most beautiful sight I know is those who are never bored when their work is done. They keep a spirit of playfulness alive. They know how to enjoy almost any moment. They find music in common sounds; they dance a little as they move about; they find poetry in ordinary conversation with everyday people. They're never far from playfulness.

Does that sound childish? It may well be child-like. Said Jesus: "Unless you can become as a little child, you won't enter the kingdom." "I was born able to paint like an adult," the great painter Picasso once said, seeming to boast. Then he added: "It took me forty years to learn to learn to paint like a child." Just so, it may take us years to recover our ability to play, when we've been conned into thinking that adults should be practical and purposeful at all times.

So hang on for dear life to your spirit of playfulness! If you've lost it, then for your soul's sake work at recovering it. It may be your surest ticket to the kingdom of heaven when you can pray with the writer of the 30th Psalm:

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing, thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.

I began with a parable. I leave you with another one, a bit cryptic, this time by the late cartoonist Jim Crane. I won't even tell you what it means. Crane calls it "Lift-off."

Charlie, his mother said, you're 10 years old,
and it's time you stopped playing with blocks.
Charlie, his teacher said, you're 15 years old,
and it's time you stopped daydreaming.
Charlie, his father said, you're 20 now,
and it's time you stopped writing those plays.
Charlie, his advisor, said, it's time you concentrated on meeting graduation requirements.
Charlie, his wife said, you're 30 years old and have a family to support. It's time you stopped having visions.
Charlie, his boss said, there is no place in this concern for fantasy.

On May 15th Charlie sat at the controls of his flower and lifted off in a stream of soft magenta smoke.

He waved a tender good-bye to his
mother, father,
teacher, adviser,
wife, children,
and the boss.

Goodbye, he called back. What a pity! You could all have come with me— if you'd only known.

What St. Augustine said 1600 years ago about dancing may apply to all play — play that’s really light-hearted and not just a grim mirror of our competitive business life.

Augustine said: “Better learn learn to dance, or the angels in heaven won’t know what to do with you!”

How has play changed the course of my approach to life? It is one of my primary approaches to life. the means by which I navigate and travel my path in life. Unlike many, I hold fast to the belief that just because I grow older, doesn’t mean I have to stop thinking, viewing or interacting with the world around me as I did when I was younger.

So the question becomes not how has play changed the course of my life, but rather how do I change myself and the direction I take in life through play?

“Let us venture out in to this glorious new day. With open minds and ready hands we’ll free our hearts to play.”

Play is looking at the world or something in it, and seeing in it the possibilities of what it could be, or is not, and in doing so better understanding all that it is. Play is following the instinct of curiosities whim; it’s turning abruptly left down a street to find another route that will bring me to the street that is to my right. Play’s personification promotes the perpetuation of memory and the lessons of my education. Play is stopping to give a tree a familiar friendly pat on the bark and ask, “Hello there brother Acer sacharum (red maple). Why are you growing in this swamp (I thought you preferred more well drained sites)? Is that why your leaves are so disheveled and your growth so stunted, or is it a disease or pest that infests you?”

Play makes the mundane, less likely to drive me insane. It’s the difference between the drudgery of having to walk to the store to get groceries, and taking on the challenge and opportunity of embarking on an epic hunter gatherer journey of survival with my stout walking stick in hand. Play is walking down the street and sparing with inanimate objects; it’s balancing on curbs that have suddenly become tightropes over bottomless chasms; it’s riding my bike and pretending I am flying, or that I am the engine of some powerful 4x4 that I will never be able to own or drive because of my visual impairment; it’s pretending I am flying every time I leap up to touch a leaf high above my head; it’s the involuntary yip of joyful accomplishment that explodes from my lips upon climbing to the top of a 50 or 60ft tree; it’s roaming through the woods with a stout stick, pretending I am the hunter-warrior as a lay about with my sword to hack through and vanquish the dead branches that are the obstacles and struggles baring my way along my path in life; it’s thinking like a wolf every time I see a dog and respond when they bark viciously at me from their fenced in yard by saying aloud, “Good dog, defending your territory. Fear not, I will respect thee.” Then bowing humbly and walking away. Its seeing in the reality that is, the possibility of realities that are not, and in doing so coming to a deeper and more thorough understanding of the environment in which we exist. It’s the act of imitating the qualities of others, be they human, animal or otherwise, that I admire most and wish to aspire to.

It is the process and act of learning to learn by opening one’s mind. It is the physical expression of mental exercise. It is the act of creatively energetic curiosity. It is the expression of a source and outlet of inspiration. It is the instinct of preparing for the challenges of life by creating and solving problems that one will likely never encounter.; it’s gaining vital experience that develop and shape one’s character and confidence, without ever having to face the true hazards and mortal perils of living them first hand.

It’s the behavior that is stifled and oppressed in adults by society as being “inappropriate, or foolish or childish.”, when in truth it is among the greatest gifts of wisdom that youth has to offer. The wisdom of age, is knowing the strength of youth.And the strength of youth, is recognizing the wisdom of age. It’s one of the primary reasons strangers on the street think me weird and/or dangerous.
It is an integral part of how I maintain the balance of my physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing. I need not and do not “exercise” or “workout)…..I play. And I find it a much more pragmatic and fulfilling means than going to some sweaty overcrowded gym, or playing on some sprots team where everybody is worried about what everybody else thinks of their image. We are all our own greatest enemy. Sometimes the most thorough way to defeat an enemy is to make them your allie. And by competing only with myself, I am always victorious.

Play is pretending that reality, is whatever I will it to be
And in so doing, living happy and free.

Over the years, play has changed in a few ways. First of all, when I was younger, my forms of play consisted mostly of imaginary or made up games. It was always more fun to play with friends because they could bring their own ideas of what to do. Nowadays, I can only play when I have time, which is very rare. Most of my play is alone or with my dog because it is hard to find friends with the same schedule that have time to play when I do. Unfortunately, play is not as much fun as it used to be due to the lack of time.
In my earlier years, I used to create clubs (mostly in the woods) that most likely shaped me into the creative person I am today. Also, I used to get out all my mother’s pots and pans and produce music, which lead me to play an instrument once I reached high school. Today, I love to build things and put things together. I believe this might have come from my passion when I was younger to build tents in my house and play with link-in-logs.
Without play, I think I would be very stressed out. Play gives me a chance to relax and ponder on things without all the stress of everyday life. It is wonderful to have time to myself to have fun and do the things that I love doing. It helps me accomplish tasks throughout the day when I know that I will have time to play at the end. Overall, play has given me the tools to believe in others, be fair and understanding, and work out any dilemmas I might have.

The course of play has changed greatly since I was a kid. When I was younger all the kids would either play candy land, hop scotch, four square, and even jump rope. When I see kids playing hop scotch now a day it seems like it’s an ancient game. Everyone knows the game of Candy land, but it’s just not as popular as it used to be. When I was in elementary school I was on a jump rope team, when I hit middle school they decided to get rid of the program because no one was interested in it anymore.

I have one younger brother and a younger sister, and their types of play usually consist of going swimming, being on a dance team, and sometimes just playing a game of cards. When I tell my sister to go and play hop scotch or four square she looks at me like I am crazy, and says “no body does that anymore.”

I do not have any certain memories that I can think of that has shaped who I am today, but I do believe by being involved in many different types of play when I was younger has made me more active today, and has even helped me in deciding what I want to be. I believe it helped me in joining different types of sports and trying new things, and since I have played sports, I absolutely love it, and I am now majoring in Physical Education.

1. The forms of play have changed over the course of my lifetime by many different means. I remember playing tee ball when I was very young. My coach seemed to have a serious competitive drive but of course I was in it for the play aspect. I was a small child not looking for serious competition. As I grew older I got into cross country and track, and my play aspect morphed to sport. I was no longer running for fun, I was actually looking for serious competition. I trained and trained and became a well balanced runner. After high school was over and now that I’m in college I am in my leisure form of play. I only run when I feel the urge to, or lift weights when I want, which is usually 3 times a week anyways. I still keep my competitive drive inside where my sport aspect is, but I don’t need to be like that anymore since I’m not in a sport anymore.

2. Yes, I do recollect certain memories from my cross country and track days. I recall my coach always pushing me to my ability to do my best. When I have a son, or if I become a coach, I will do the same to my athletes. I will never push them to the point of injury, but I will always push them to their ability and beyond.

3. Play has changed the course of my life to the point now that I can play a game or run a race and not have a serious competitive drive. I learned from my sport days that there is a time for pushing yourself, but I am past that point now. I run and lift weights for fun now as my leisure. I no longer have the sport aspect anymore and I’m perfectly fine with that.

I am the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood and an international movement called Godly Play. The Center is newly located at the Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel, California. Godly Play is spreading all over the world as people of many denominations and traditions recover the spiritual practice of play.

Our founder, The Rev. Jerome W. Berryman is an Episcopal Priest who has recently retired from over forty years of playing. Of course, he is still playing as he continues his work of creating, lecturing and writing. He has invited many thousands of people into the divine play of grace and taught me new ways to play.

Through sacred stories, parables, liturgical actions and wondering we engage children of all ages in play. You can learn more at www.godlyplay.org.

On a personal note, my own childhood was always filled with play and as an adult, I have brought that spirit of play into my work as a priest in the Episcopal Church. I get to prepare a feast every Sunday and tell stories and sing songs. It is a life filled with wonder.

Thank you for this amazing broadcast.

Rebecca+

I believe play has become more certain and predictable as parents decide that their children must have a set schedule all day long, as compared to when I was a child. When I was younger, during the summer, I was outside all day playing different games with my friends or going to the swimming pool. My schedule was whatever game we wanted to play at the time. On the rare occasion I went to summer camp we had outdoor activities like playing in the creek or big games of hide and seek in the woods.
Now as a summer camp counselor, my boss has a set schedule for the campers that includes an hour in the library (playing games on the computer) and sit down games that the campers play before they get picked up by parents. I understand why there is an obesity epidemic in the United States now, children aren’t exercising. As a counselor I have to argue with campers just to go outside let alone play at the local park we go to. This is a total shock to me, children now have become so used to playstation, xbox, television and air conditioning that if they are deprived of any of those they can’t function correctly.
I know that playing pick up games of football with my friends at my local park as a kid help shape me into the person I am now. Without that I would have never got a football scholarship my freshman year of college where I met many of my friends and decided my career goal. I want to teach physical education and health as well as coach high school football and/or be a personal trainer.
Play has affected my life because it has always been something I like to do. I am an active person and play is a way I can cope with my extra energy. Play helped me choose my career goals because it is what I believe most strongly in and what interests me most.

I believe that play has become much more complicated over my lifetime. This is partly due to technology. I have a hard time remembering what types of play I did throughout my grade school years. I enjoyed putting on shows and creating make-believe situations. Me and my friends would put on plays and dance. We’d also open up make believe stores and play teacher. I think many kids still do these types of things, but so many of the toys geared to kids today are high tech. I worked at a toy store over Christmas break and I couldn’t believe how many of the toys were electronic. The only technological toy I can recall from my childhood was my super Nintendo. Video games are still big, and allow kids to make believe in a new way which is much less active. Play has become less active. I don’t think as many kids get off the couch and play sports. I may not have played actual sports as a kid, but I still danced and remained active. I couldn’t imagine what I would have done in my spare time if I hadn’t danced. That consumed a lot of my free time.
Since I always put on plays and danced as a kid, I think it’s shaped me to be a performer. I like to get up in front of a crowd and dance. I think this has determined my career path as well. I like sharing with others, whether it be teaching, or performing. Being part of a dance team in high school and having a great coach really impacted me. My coach opened my eyes to many things. Not just dance, but how to handle situations life throws at you. No matter what situation occurred, whether it was to our team, or to me personally she always had wisdom. To me dancing was the largest part of play in my life and has shaped me in a number of ways.
Such a lax thing like play can actually have a large impact on a kid. Play or athletics remains with you throughout a lifetime. Being part of any team provides you with unique skills. I feel that I obtained people skills and confidence. It has turned me into a more ambitious person. If I didn’t have something to strive for, I’d feel lazy. I’ve always had a busy schedule and try to balance lots of activities. But at the same time you need that play time that is free and creative. I got that feeling with dance. Everyone has their own type of play and gains something from it.

Chad Willhoff
August 24, 2007
Faith in sport

Play has changed throughout my life tremendously. When I was smaller I would play games with friends with no worries or restrictions at all. As I began to age a lot of games that I would consider as play changed into more of a competition because of my competitive nature. I started to turn from nonrestrictive games and turn them into wanting to win all the time. The one thing I really enjoy now that I consider play would have to be running and working out. As I have gotten older I have realized how important it is to stay in shape. Exercising has become a form of play that I really enjoy to do.

I can remember times in my life that have shaped me into the kind of person and coach that I am today. When I was younger, I always had a good time during my sports even though I was the most competitive person I know. This has made me a coach who can instill having fun and enjoying your high school experience during your athletics while working hard to win. I can also remember times during play that my father instilled in me discipline and dedication which has been great attributes to me as a person and a professional. My father would tell me to be good at something you must work at it and never give up. Through this instruction that I received it has helped me stay dedicated to anything I do in life to get the best result. I can now stress to my teams that I coach that it is important in play, sport and life to give it your all and dedicate yourself to the thing you are doing.

Play has made me understand the importance to the things in life. It has showed me that winning isn’t everything. There was a time in my life that I believed winning was everything and I would stop at no cost to win. My approach to life has changed from that to a more enjoyable time. I am still competitive but I know how to coach and teach others so they can always have a positive experience through the play in their life.

Danny Harris
8/25/07
A-11

1) Growing up play has changed many different ways and it’s changed the way I’ve looked at sports also. I remember when I was about 10 my friends and I would spend 8-10hrs a day in the pool during the summer time. We would always think its fun to have speed races and who could hold their breath the longest under water. We would always get a group of friends together and play homerun derby or get together and play basketball outside of someone’s house. As we started to get older that friendly play wasn’t there anymore. What I mean by this is that, becoming older and playing that same things was fun still but it had more of a spot on winning the game or winning the race. We really didn’t just go out to “play” it was always “ try your best and win”. Now in adulthood its not the same activities as it used to be but, my friends an I like to go out an play a little golf or do things at our leisure that isn’t very big competition. You cant get me wrong, there’s still competition out there but as your growing up you hit different stages in your life and the source of play starts off easy goes to hard but, when you become older you want to “play” again!

2) I don’t really remember many things that you could say shaped me as the person I am today but I felt that playing youth wrestling shaped me into a better child. Growing up I had two older brothers that wrestled and my dad was one of the coaches well, I thought it’d be cool to wrestle so I did. When I first started wrestling I was 6 years old and about 50lbs. I was the smallest kid on the team, but I loved to do it and get out on the mat and wrestle people. As much as wrestling is a sport I loved doing it and loved being on the team. Even though I was never allowed by league rules to actually have a match against another team I loved practicing with the team and going on road trips. When I became older I started to wrestle for team and indv. Pride and that’s when it became a sport. After 14 years of wresting I finally was burnt out and couldn’t do it anymore. I think wrestling that early helped be gain values and I was able to look up to the older boys on the team. It defiantly has shaped me into who I am today.

3) I think play has changed my approach to life because when I “play” I am able to just let loose and do the things I want and really not care about things. I feel that when im competing im more stressed out. Play has made me realize that everything should be taken with a grain of salt. It has made my life approach easier.

I have worked with children for the better part of 20 years. Through the lessons my students have taught me I developed a program called "Pocketful of Magic". Pocketful of Magic is a gateway to playfulness. It supports the spirited,faithful nature of children's play . Over many years I've seen that the joyful state of play is bonding, emotionally educational, essential to deeper learning, critical thinking, the development of trust and faith in self and others. It forms the primary social structure among peers. It makes us grow. I've seen children in their thousands and none of them, not one, will refuse to play in their own way and time. Where else in the human community will you find a behavior that everyone agrees to?

Good Morning Everyone,

I enjoyed the broadcast immensely. It gave me pause for thought as I was still lying in bed with our family pet at my side. What was missing for me was the coverage of the role of our fur-friends (cats, dogs, etc.) when our peers aren't available to play (in childhood or adulthood).

For the most part, play has been a part of my life as a reward AFTER the work is complete. It was not an entitlement as a child. And, no, I didn't grow up on a farm. (Jacksonville, Florida suburbs. Working parents. Much older child to one very sweet kid brother).

All too quickly approaching 60 now, I include daily play with our family pet, Annie Beagle Girl, and have made inroads to building relationships with my very young and more senior neighborhood friends. I tend to be attracted to friendships where pets are considered a member of the family.

Thank you again. It was a wonderful way to start my day.

Gotta' run ... mow the lawn and pick up our daughter from playing volleyball. Then, I get to take that long walk with Annie around the neighborhood.

I am truly inspired to include more play in all aspects of my life. Thank you, again, for the insight.

Blessings,

Gloria

PS - Annie and her two black lab friends, Jas(mine) and Maggie(Magnolia) are a fairly common site in our aviation business offices and private terminal.

Hi, My story is about a parent group I facilitated years ago that morphed from a more traditional parenting program into an Adult Play Group. Based on the needs of parents who told me that they had never played as children (and were therefore having difficulty playing with their kids), the group was based on the idea that children's needs are met by parents whose needs are met. All this based around the concept of play led to the glorious experience of adults coming together every week to play (just for the sake of play). Inside the adult play room there was a swing, a sandbox, an easel, a cozy booknook with both adult and children's literature, a sciencing table, a block corner, and an art table. Inside what became our sacred play space we played to our hearts' content. We read stories together, ate cookies and milk, took turns on the swing and engaged in deeply satisfying play. The group was a huge success and led to the parents being able to understand the importance of play, as well as to their being able to play more with their children. I wrote my Masters thesis on the experience if anyone would like to see it. What the parents had to say about the experience of adult play was absolutely wonderful. It changed their lives (and mine too) in very important and transformative ways.

A playful person is suspicious, especially as they age beyond youth. Yet it is constantly apparent that play not only balances a person in difficult times, but brings a lasting element to survival.

When I went to my first chemo session, I was terrified and yet playful. I had brought some "glasses" which were made of the same material as the "glowing" necklaces kids bring to rock concerts - you bend the tube and the neon element in the item begins to glow.

The friend who accompanied me and I set to freeing the neon just after the oncology nurse had "hooked me up", and the toxic chemotherapy fluid was racing through my veins.

"Marybeth, could you ask the doctor to come to my room?"

In walked the doc, and he wondered what was up. He thought I had a question about the therapy, and had a huge belly laugh when I said,

"Doc, I think it's working!"

In all of the remaining sessions I underwent I brought a sense of play to the nurses, the doctors, and the cancer Center. Playfulness spreads, and one finds that some others are willing to participate.

The real sadness is when one discovers that some people never learned how to play, or never released their playful spirit. Some were denied playfulness by parents or nannies, or dutiful teachers.

It is 5 years since I went through chemotherapy, and then I did radiation, and gradually weaned myself from the intense fear of recurrence. It may come; it may not. What I do know is that I will keep my playful spirit, because it can be called on in crisis to 'leaven the loaf" and guide the spirit.

1. From what I remember, when I was a kid, I would always want to go outside and run around, get dirty, and have fun. We used to play tag, man hunt, football in the street, and street hockey. We would do what ever we could to be out of the house. The worst days were rainy days. During the summer I would be outside by 9 am and ride my bike to the park and meet up with all the neighborhood kids. We had the most fun playing silly games that we made up. Today, it seems the kids do not like being outside. They would rather sit indoors and play video games or watch TV. Of course the video games now days are a lot better than they were 15 years ago. I have a 12 year old brother, and he would rather play video games than be outside. Now he does play three organized sports, but him and his friends do not go outside and just “play.” Even though I see video games as a form of play, it is different from how I used to play as a kid.

2. I think when I would play as a kid, developed me into a tougher and more competitive person. By being outside all day, it was inevitable that I would get hurt. Little bumps and bruises did not make me want to go inside. I think that has carried over to my adult life. When there is something trying to slow me down in my everyday life, I have the strength and will power to fight through it. By being more competitive helps me strive for perfection in my adult life, which will lead to success. I hated losing no matter what we would play. I hated being tagged or found in man hunt. I would always continue to get better and I think that reflects in my everyday activities. Also, since I was real active as a kid, I think that help me in my adult life, stay active. Playing as a kid was the stepping stones for me to living a healthy lifestyle as an adult. Now days I hate sitting around playing video games or watching TV. I like being outside. I like playing wiffle ball with my brother among other things. This all started when I was a child.

3. Play has taught me not to take life so serious. You have to know how to play if you want to survive in this world. Even though I was/am really competitive, I never lost focus of the fact that I was having fun. After a long day of school and work, I come home and play wiffle ball with my brother or toss football. I need to unwind and be that little kid I used to be, even if it is only a few hours a day. Play has taught me that no matter how hard life gets, that you must have fun and not forget how to just “play.”

For as long as I can remember, play has been a part of my life. At young ages (6 or 7), I can remember playing outside until my mom would make me come inside. Whether it was tag, hide and seek, kick ball on the corner, or football down in the field, I was always outside playing. I think my favorite game as a young child had to be kickball. The games my friends and I played when we were young were very unorganized, however. Everyone knew the basic rules, but they weren’t paid attention to very well. We were just happy to be outside running around. As we got older, though, games became more serious and competitive. Rules were strictly enforced, losing wasn’t an option and fights even broke out sometimes. I think this was a good thing as well as a bad thing. It was a good thing in the sense that it gave me a competitive edge and a hunger to be the best I could be. On the other hand, some of the fun was taken out of the games because they were so serious.
One thing I can distinctly remember about my play was that I was a very bad loser. I hated it! I could not stand it when I’d lose, even if it was in a pointless game of hide and seek. I think that desire to win has followed me throughout my life. Once I was old enough to realize and learn about things such as weight training, supplements, and eating right I did everything I could to be my best at whatever I was playing. From high school football to pick-up games of basketball, I wanted to be the best I could be. Hard work and dedication is definitely a positive trait that I know I have and that I feel I’ve gained through play. I’ve never been the biggest or fastest or strongest guy, but I’ve always been a hard worker at everything I do. Not just in sports or play, but also in things such as school or work. I always strive to do my best and will work hard to reach my maximum potential.
I couldn’t imagine not having play as a part of my life. It has been with me for so long that I couldn’t even begin to think about how I would be without it. I feel it has definitely been a big part of me being where I am today. A Physical Education major in my second year of college and always willing to work hard. Without play being a huge roll in my life, who knows where I’d be or what I’d be majoring in these days. All in all I know that play has helped shape the course of my life in many aspects.

In the course of my lifetime play has changed a great deal. When I was in grade school video games were just starting to become the big thing. Kids stopped playing outside as much and worried more about getting to the next level in there favorite video game. Even after I received my first Nintendo System I still wanted to play outside more than the video game. I enjoyed playing in the woods, playing all the sports you could, and doing things like riding bikes. Today it seems like kids play Nintendo Wii and think is exercise. When I was younger it seemed as if I was always outside, and it we had to use our imagination when we played. We used ghost runners when we played baseball and also played Pickle. Most kids now don't even know what a ghost runner or pickle is. I think kids today need to be more creative when they play.

I remember when I used to play sports for fun or in a league I always wanted to be the best so I could impress the girls. I think that carried over to my everyday life. Now I don't need to impress any girls but I still feel the need to be the best in everything I do. I have realized that when you try your best and do your told to do it can take you a long way in life. Play also taught me that I like to be the leader. I'm not a person who likes to follow, I would much rather be leading and directing people. It helped me to be able to think and react in pressure situations. It helped me to take control of situations when I feel the need too.

Play has changed my life by helping me find out who I am in many different ways. It helps me find my strengths and my weaknesses. It has helped me to meet me in many different situations. It has also helped me physically by helping me stay in shape and to stay healthy. I still love getting together with friends to play basketball, baseball, and football. I also feel the need to go to the gym to stay in shape so I can continue to play the sports I enjoy. It has also changed my approach in life by making me a more competitive person and always wanting to win and be the best.

Play has been something that I have been doing my entire life. It has helped shape me into the person that I am today mentally and physically. Although it has always been around it hasn’t always been the same. Early in my life it was less complicated, and came easy to me. It was almost natural to just pick up on anything and turn it into a game. I guess it is easy when we are younger because we have a lot more time on our hands; we almost don’t even look at it as playing but as everyday activities. Yet as I got older play started to become more serious. Competition came into playing and at sometimes the fun was taken out of it. There were almost two different forms of play in my life. One was when I with my team, and the other was just having leisure time in between all of my activities.
Play has made me the person that I am today I guess because I have a passion for it. I have always played sports throughout my life, so that’s mainly where all my memories come from. I think that being an active person has made me who I am today. One memory that formed my personality would have to be being the captain of my football team in high school. It made me more responsible and let me know that people are depending on me everyday. Just the fact that I was part of a team makes me feel now that I am easy to get along with. Play brought me together with all kinds of different people and helped me learn new things. All together play changed the coarse of my life because it made me want to go into the field of study that deals with play everyday. Its something that I enjoy to do, and it will never go away. That’s why I am currently a physical education major. Play is something that has formed us into the people we are today whether we know it or not.

Like most children play was a central part of my life. From physical games, to card games, to imaginary games I loved to play. When I was very young I was shy, the imaginary word is where I found my refugee. As I grew in age and maturity I challenged myself to participate in more social play. Tag, pickle, kickball, and dodge ball were favorites among my friends and I. We played because we loved to be together not because we were competing for a title or prize. But as we grew older the spirit of competition would manifest itself. The competitive nature that our play was adopting intimidated my shy disposition. Slowly I participated less and less in play with my friends.
When I was in seventh grade I was introduced to the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. I had participated in sports such as soccer, and basketball but they had never awakened my competitive spirit or a love for the game. Ultimate became an inseparable part of my life. I thrived in its athletic component and was productively challenged by the skills it required. As I became more confident on the field and more comfortable with my teammates and opponents I began to brake from my introverted nature. Participating in a sport on a competitive level has given me the confidence to explore avenues of life which I never would have ventured down otherwise. I now enjoy participating in many sports, and am seeking a Degree in fitness and recreation. Play and it evolution throughout my life as had an invaluable effect on who I am today and who I am striving to be tomorrow.

To me, the forms of play have not really changed over the course of my lifetime. Back in my adolescent years, I would call my friend or my friend would call me and ask the simple question, “Do you want to come over and play?” Play what, we did not know. Play could have been shooting baskets outside, playing video games, going to the creek or riding bikes. We had so many different forms of play to experience. More friends meant more fun. Bike races, baseball games, and capture the flag were very popular. When I drive through neighborhoods, there are always kids running wildly in the yards. It just brings a smile to my face. The more kids play, the better off they will be. Kids experience so much when they are young. How one acts a child will most likely be how they will act when they are grown up. This is how it turned out for me. I usually took charge and decided the game or activity that was approved by my peers and we all had great times together.
Certain memories of my childhood years will always be with me. A game of capture the flag at night will never abscond my memory. It was getting late so we had to cancel the rules and each team would go look for the opponents flag. We started walking and I thought to myself, if I was on this team where would I hide my flag? I found the flag in a couple of minutes in the back under a fallen tree. That is how I am today. When faced with a difficult task, I pretend that I already know the answer. My Biology teacher in high school would ask someone a question and if the person said they did not know the answer, he would then ask, “Well if you did know, what would it be?” That got the student to think even harder. It sounds very easy and simple but it actually does work.
Play has changed the course my approach to life by making me who I am today. When it comes to play, one has to take charge and decide what to do for that afternoon or evening. The one in charge has to be intelligent and also he needs to be a good listener. A good leader needs to listen more to his friends (or subordinates) if they want to be successful. When it comes to group projects, I usually am the one who takes charge. For our softball teams, I ended up coaching and taking charge of the team making lineups and getting enough players for each game. I enjoy being in charge and it all started when I was young. Not everyone should take charge, however. Yes, it is always good to be a leader but there is only a leader when there are followers. Some people enjoy being followers and there is nothing wrong with that. More often than not, the followers are the most important part of a group or a clique. They are the ones performing the task given by the leader and need to be just as intelligent as their superior.

1.) The different forms of play have been evolving for many years in multiple ways especially in my lifetime. When I was younger with little to no responsibilities my play time was much different than it is now in college. For instance I never worried about how much time I had to play or where I was going to play. I simply knew dinner and dark were the only times that I had to return to home. As I grew older and entered middle school my play mainly consisted of sports, other friend’s houses, and other social activities. By this age my time to play was not nearly as limited as it is now, and was about equal to when I was younger. Once I entered high school a lot of my free time to play was taken away by homework, sports, work, etc.

Age has changed my play in many different ways especially since playing has always been a big part of my life. Mostly responsibilities have changed and limited my play. Currently my play consists of multiple different sports such as basketball, and occasionally softball as well as relaxing, partying, girls, and friends. I find myself searching for time to play as much as possible where as when I was younger I had all the time in the world to play. Many people consider playing a weakness but I feel as if playing develops strong character in everyone.

2.) I most certainly recollect many of my memories of playing that shape or explain the person I am currently. The ones I can’t remember are most possibly remembered by others or visually seen with a picture. Being that play is definitely one of my favorite aspect of life it shows exactly who I am. Memories with sports explain my competitive attributes such as intense tournaments or even a 3 on 3 game of basketball in the backyard. When I was younger my time of play was almost always spent outside, and today I feel as if I admire being outdoors just as much as if I were a young boy again. My play memories not only attain to my desired career but they are what I would enjoy in a profession. Hopefully my memories and childhood history create a professional career that I will enjoy as well as make a respectable living off of. Personally I feel that my childhood memories reflect my current self multiple ways; I’ve always been a playful person. The playful side of me will never change no matter my age.

3.) Play has changed a lot of aspects of my life, especially what routes and decisions I would and did make in the past. Without play life would be a whole lot different for me, and most certainly not for the better. Play makes life worth living for, many people can’t stand their daily lives; the way they live, their careers, where they live, etc. But play itself can make life much easier to endure especially if you can find a lot of free time to be able to play within your daily schedule. Although I do know the difference in times where play is appropriate and when it is not I still always think about playing while I’m working. Playing itself is what I find most enjoyable in my life its changed a lot of decisions with careers, places I’ve been, and even those I speed my free time with.

I´m from Spain, and as everybody knows in my country the main sport is soccer, so when I was a child I had to play soccer if I wanted to do something with my friends. But when I was 14 years old I changed my mind and I told my parents that I want to play basketball. For that, I had to take a bus every day during 18 miles to go to the near city and 18 to back to my village.

So, I think one of the most important things the sports inculcated me is the sacrifice spirit, for example, I knew that every day I had to do my homework early to catch the bus, I couln´t go out and spend all my time with my friends if wanted to play basket.

Another significant thing in my sport experience is the companionship. I think this is a very important feeling that you only can acquire if you are involve in some activity with other people.

That´s my thoughts and experience with the sport.

In my opinion, life is play. Growing up I always loved playing games and instituting as much fun out of life as possible. Play ensures me of the ability to enjoy life to the max as long as I have fun while I play. The main change that has taken place with play has been the levels of competition and seriousness I have taken to play. With all the chaos in daily routine activities, play is one thing I make sure to fit in. Somehow I always feel better after I fit in just the perfect amount of time to challenge myself, better myself, and learn about myself.

While I was in my junior year of high school I was challenged by my high school gym teacher and a couple of my classmates to run a 10K race. I was no where close to being an athlete. My two friends who challenged me were all into sports. Both of them played two sports. I wasn’t a sports figure in any form while I was in high school, I did enjoy the rush I got from sprinting down the court to shoot a layup, I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment I felt when I endured a mile run in my goal time, and I enjoyed going to physical education class to continue keeping my body in good physical condition. These memories of my competitive connection to play then made me feel like I had accomplished something for myself that no one could accomplish for me. The way I felt after I finished the 10K at the same pace of my highly athletic friends couldn’t be replaced.

Play should always be fun. Looking back on play and remembering when it was the most fun, I see how important it is to make sure play is fun for everyone. Not only is it a good idea to have fun while you are playing sports, its good to have fun while you’re working, while you’re studying, and while you’re living. When you connect fun and play to life, life is fun like it should be. Running the 10K race was fun. Just one race wasn’t enough. I’m going for more races and longer races. I enjoy the form of play that involves self accomplishment. Running is a definate self accomplishment. Now, I hope to be a challenging physical educator just like mine was for me. Her influence made running a lifestyle for me.

Early in my life time most of things my family and the general did for sport was make believe. Because I was born in 1986 and as I got older sport started to explode in the youth ranks. The age and grade to start playing an organized sport was getting younger. During this time also all sport was less and less more fun instead of for winning and money. Sport has shaped me to be very determined to do very well at what ever I put mine mind to. The reason I was born into a very competitive family. My father was a basketball coach at the high school level when I was born. I have Cerebral Palsy so no being able to play the sport myself has made me want to be a very competitive person has made me determined to learn and be able to teach the game of basketball as a coach. I figure I can be competitive as a coach instead of not being good enough to play the game myself. Play and sport has changed my life by making me want to succeed at what ever the task at hand is. I feel that play and sport has made me realize that I can do anything anybody else can do I just do it differently

1. To me play has simply become more competitive, anything from kids playing kick ball to adults playing a game of corn hole, everything is for bragging rights no matter what the situation. I think we look at play as a way to show our peers what we are good at and use it as a way to show off a skills. Now other then bragging i do think that we use play as a reason to get friends together and enjoy each others company.

2. By nature (or so it seems) i am a competitive person and because of play i was able to grow up constantly comparing my skills to the people around me. To this day i am not a good loser and still try my hardest to be the best at whatever i do. I like knowing that someone wants to do things like i do

3. Life is to serious. Play helps take some of lifes pressures away. I look at play as something i do on the weekends or when i get off work. Its a reward for doing something i have to do. Play is my way of saying good job, now its time to relax and do something that i want to do.

When I was young play was something I did to pass the time or to relax after school. Play consisted of games of tag and doge ball anything to exert energy. We would occasionally have a friendly game of kick ball and baseball. I still like to stay active exerting energy makes people stay positive. My forms of play now are more sport oriented such as swimming softball and running. I would have to say my forms of play now are much more structured. Not many people take time for play, there for making in more of a solo activity. There are some groups you can join to play almost any sport just for fun. Time is needed to join these groups witch is why lots of people now a days miss out on play.
When playing when I was little I was almost all the time the youngest, I always had to stride to be on the same level as the other kids I played with. That has taught me to work hard, with my history of play and sports I have learned it is worth putting extra time in something in the end it will be better for me.
Play has helped me get involved in many sports, play when you get older is harder to come buy. Some people join sports teams because they have exceptional skill in the sport, and for some people it is simply just a form of play. Play has taught me to turn my relaxation and leisure time into something that makes me fell positive. Sometimes when playing a sport becoming overly competitive taking away what play is for people. Play has taught me to approach life with whatever outcome or block I may get in the future there is a way around it.

Over my lifetime, I fortunately have never lost the ability to play. I play more purposefully now at age 63 than ever before. I run two businesses so play is very important to stay sane.
I recollect as a child, my mother played games and we sang and walked a lot. Great bonding experiences. I continue these even without her physically here.
I can't imagine life without play. I try to schedule time to laugh and have timeless play time with friends several times a week. We play monopoly, dogopoly, catpoloy, etc. and just have lots of fun... never serious! Who wins or looses has nothing to do with the game...it is pure pleasure!

I used to teach music and my approach was to make it fun from the very beginning. I used to ask my students "why do you think they call it playing?". And even now, in my late 50s, playing music is fun! One of my favorite activities is playing in an orchestra.

My "work" in the world is teaching a technique/philosophy called InterPlay. Using movement, storytelling, stillness and voice, InterPlay is a form that teaches adults how to create in the moment, how to bring spontinaity to their creativity, and how to bring playfulness into their everyday lives. InterPlay is a fun way for adults to learn how to play, because it is taught encremintaly with affirmation and enthusiasm. I was so excited listening to your broadcast on play, realizing that there is an Institution of Play, and hearing that viable connections are being made between spirituality and play. InterPlay is a spiritual practice that has given me and thousands of others a renewal of spirituality imbedded in our everyday lives, in our communities, in our familys.

If you are interested in more information you can go to InterPlay.org, our web site. We are teaching InterPlay all over the US and in other countries. I am a local teacher who started teaching InterPlay here 15 years ago. There is now a large InterPlay community in the Twin Cities.

I am a UCC minister, graduate of UTS, and was a parrish pastor for 15 years. I now teach InterPlay full time. Besides teaching the basics of InterPlay, and offering classes for couples, I work with therapists, clergy/ chaplins, and other professionals facilitating personal, professional and spiritual growth with them and their clients/parrishioners using InterPlay.

Thank you for airing this program. I beleive the play is not a luxury, but a very important component for a healthy, full, and creative life.

The forms of play have changed my life in many ways. Such ways include manners, responsibility, dependability, healthier, and a good way of showing me how to work with others as a team. Manners come a long way when entering college and life after college, because many professors expect their students to have respect for them and their classmates. Responsibility is also a great aspect to have when completing your degree as a college student, because the college student needs to be in class each day that it meets to make sure they have all the information needed to pass the class. Also, the student needs to responsible in turning in their work and studying for the appropriate materials in order to pass the class.
Recollecting certain memories of play that has shaped me to the person I am today, is a daily ritual for me. I remember the long practices and meets that we had to stay on the ball for the whole swim meet. We had to be there for our team, win or loose. We also had to be there cheering for the other swimmers, even when it wasn’t our event to swim, because we were a team and a team sticks together for everybody, thick or thin.
Play has changed the approach to my life in many ways. I see that now I act more of a adult than my peers due to playing sports. I am a much responsible person with values and morals that go a long way past my peers.

Your interview with Stuart Brown was a terrific exploration of play. To my mind, it revealed the implications of bringing play into Education. As a National Institute of Play associate, Stuart may have mentioned to you the Puppetools web site which was recently featured in Edutopia magazine. Puppetools is 'play language.'

My journey into Education through play may be a classic example of what can happen when you play with an idea. I believe that Play represents the next new paradigm for Education. It is also the key to opening the learning culture and making it more receptive in order for the paradigm to take hold. The community of teachers that has become part of Puppetools represents the beginnings of the coming shift. Play is normally perceived as appropriate only for young children. My work has effectively dismantled that myth. A visit to the web site will confirm that.

Thank you for bringing play to the attention of your listening audience. Twenty years of research is currently being left out of the national conversation on Education. More discussion on this important human resource will help to change that.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey L. Peyton
Founder, Puppetools

make believe play asa little girl was important- even though it was hard for me to play "family" as I was raised by my aunt and grandmother and had no siblings. It probably influenced my desire to have a lot of children which turned out to be not so much fun but lots of work.

My husband's alcoholism later reared its ugly head and interfered with enjoyment of children and family. Anger, resentment, punishment (of children's behavior) took over and fun was not a meaningful part of my life for many years, even after my husband found sobriety through membership in AA.

Fear of the loss of my husband, even though it wasn't a loving relatioship, finally brought me to the Al-Anon fellowship, for families and friends of alcoholics.

It has taken years for me to recover from the effects of alcoholism, but I can say honestly that after 35 years in Al-Anon I know the meaning of fun and continue, at the age of 78, to search out new and meaningful ways to enjoy myself.

Several years ago, for instance, while living on Long Island, I began to study Chinese brush painting. Disappointed in not finding opportunities to continue study when I moved to Florida, I pursued it when I went to visit family in California. It has brought me great joy and the promise of showing my work at exhibitions when I make a move west -- continuing my search for fun and personal growth.

Forms of play have changed a lot over my life, only being eighteen years old I have noticed that sport for me has changed completely. When I was younger, sport was all for fun, it did not matter what you were playing how you were playing, or even if you won. Getting older I only played one sport seriously, not because that’s the only one I was good at, but that’s all I had time for. It started in middle school; I was on the middle school basketball team but at the same time I was on two different soccer teams. Sport for me had changed from play for fun to play for the state championship. So that’s when I dropped to playing only one sport. Soccer had taken over from a one season a year sport to an all year sport. I still had the play time with friends were we would play whatever we wanted but the sport that I loved and most of my friends loved too was soccer. Soccer has changed me form being a person that just wants to go play to a person that is not satisfied if they do not win. I like to win I think everyone does, but it has developed in to every part of my life. I now have to win in everything that I do.

I took up the sport of snowboarding at age 40 and now, at 54, I have to say that I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve as I eagerly anticipate the first snowfall of winter and, hopefully, many days of play, riding the long white powder wave. I can't think of any activity I've shared with friends, over the course of a lifetime, that has been as much fun!

As a practicing physician, I would not only counsel my patients about the importance of regular exercise, but encouraged them to find an activity that would have the potential to fill them with child-like glee. I am personally convinced that physical activity of this nature has health benefits above and beyond that of most exercise programs. Surely the endorphins associated with joyful play are in a class apart from those produced in the course of physical activity that is perceived as drudgery by the participant.

After 22 years in practice, I felt that I had lost the joy of being a physician and that, for the sake of my own health and happiness as well as the benefit of my patients, it was time for me to find a different path. While I am still in a period of career transition, I'm happy to say that I have made changes that permit me the freedom to snowboard as many days as I'd like. God willing, play will continue to be a priority in my life for as long as possible!

What I do for play is swim. I am a competitive Master swimmer. I have swam from nearly 21 mile distance from Catalina Island to the California Coast and I have a swam a 14 hour, less than 2 miles from France English Channel crossing attempt. When I am in my timeless zone of swimming I feel as it is almost effortless to swim fast. There is no time, just a sense of effortless movement, that I am watching from the outside and seeing the body move with the water. This type of timeless zone happens about once every two weeks and this feeling of oneness with the water is what I really look forward to experiencing. I have wondered if it is a divine occurrence that is happening after listening to the program today, I no longer wonder.

Ever since I was a kid I have been playing games and sports. Sometimes I would play games with the other kids in my neighborhood as a means of pure enjoyment and exercise. Other times I would play competitively in youth baseball and basketball leagues. Growing up I have learned to separate these two things and keep my true competitive edge on the field. I have always been a competitive person in whatever I do, but I have learned over the course of my life that sometimes it is important to realize the difference between when it is time for fun and when it is time for business. For instance, playing board games was always an enjoyable thing for me and my siblings. I can remember getting completely frustrated every time I lost to my older sister at monopoly, and even begged my dad to play a game with me whenever possible just to get some more experience under my belt. Eventually I learned the strategy to the game and could beat her. Instances like this have truly shaped the person I am today. I may look back and laugh at the determination that I had to win in board games, but it has always been in my mind that I would not settle for mediocre in anything.
Over the course of my lifetime I believe that play has become more media driven than ever before. For example, games like poker, darts, and billiards have become very easy to find on channels like ESPN. These are games that were only played in basements, bars, and casinos 20 years ago. Competition within these games has driven them into the media, and an increase in media attention brings an increase in interest of the games themselves. Ever since the World Series of Poker started airing on ESPN the game has blown up all over the country. More people are playing in competitive games, and a larger portion of these events come from online poker sites. Poker is just one form of play that has changed over time, but it is clear that any form of play that the media puts a spotlight on will blow up and the popularity of it will increase immensely. The National Spelling Bee is another form of play that has grown in popularity over the past few years as ESPN airs the annual event. The commitment level that the kids put into it alone is enough to explain the change in play, as competition is the driving force behind it.
All in all, when we look at play and how it has changed over time it is evident that the competitive attitude has compelled the media to exploit these games that were once played for pure enjoyment. It was about 12 years ago when I was playing tag in my backyard with my peers. Who knows how long it will take ESPN to air a National “tag event.” It sounds pretty unrealistic right now but that’s probably what we thought about games like poker years ago.

Of all the great SOF shows I've listened to this is the first one I've written to you about I wanted to reinforce what Dr. Brown said about what he'd observed studying murderers.

For several years I taught writing in New York City schools as a writer-in-residence. I became good at working with students in what are called District 75 schools. Those are schools (often no more than a floor or two in a larger school) for special needs children. "Special needs" means many things, one of which is schooling for children who are profoundly emotionally disturbed. Becuase I was not a Dept. of Education employee I wasn't privy to the students personal records and so I knew nothing of individual students' classifications; I only knew what I saw and worked with.

Many of the classes I taught were comprised solely of boys -- angry boys, boys with a fury easily provoked by the slightest provocation, boys who, it was obvious to me, once they left these classrooms lead by compassionate and caring teachers were destined for jail and often death. The longer I worked with students like that (and while there are many girls in these schools, they are overwhelmingly populated with boys) the more I came to belief that the emotional brittleness I witnessed was often a byproduct of these boys, these children seldom having played. They did not know how to shrug off accidental physical contact, of the reality of winning one day and losing the next, of the difference between teasing vs. being humiliated when they did something foolish or wrong. They had a hard time with the give and take we learn in playing games; it's one arena where we learn to share time, to trust that we will "get our turn". (I think that we witness a similar brittleness, a rigidity, in sexual abuse victims; as adults they are hypervigilant about all things physical.)

To follow from Dr. Brown's observations, I felt that these children were ill-equipped to weather conflict -- they had almost no experience, no practice in it. That's one of the things that play allows us, particularly males, practice in learning appropriate parameters for one's aggression. Without that practice, there comes the day where one of these boys feels disrespected, humiliated or threatened and then what?

Thank you for this program which prompted this reflection. The SOF team adds to the tapestry of what it means to be a religious, a devotional person in this world. Thank you for all that you do.

As children leave home it seems to slow down to a degree in some areas as outdoor games and increase in other areas.
When our family meets we still have silly chase inside the house or with the dog outside.Laugh at eachother silly habits.
My father was big on card games and checkers, really taught me how to think strategically and develop spatial ability.
He made it fun and was patient and playful himself.
The smile and song he had for me as a child really build up my confidence as an individual who felt love is real and is something you give.Like a smile to a stranger or a kind word to the lonely.
As a child I had close friends and we played, no TV was available. I think socially children now do not have enough play time with friends but spend more time indoor.
I love to dance and started to do so alone as a child. Growing up my older cousins will dance with me and I still love to dance.We had music and dances in my home. When I feel sad or lonely I turn the music on and dance...I love to play with small children and I feel I am still a child myself at times.
I am sort of a clown and I think that helps in life. If we take ourself too seriously...it's time to dance

Well when I was a toddler I used to play by crashing toy cars into each other, throw random objects, or look at picture books. As I got older though I started to learn games of play from my friends at school or my older brother; games like tag, hide and seek, and duck, duck, goose. Once I hit about 6 I started playing little league football, baseball, and basketball. I played those until junior high. At that point I started playing those sports for my school and in gym class it wasn’t really play anymore. Dodge ball games were intense as we were out to murder the opponent with each throw. High school wasn’t any different. There was no more play in gym or in school sports; there was too much competition to be play. So ever since then the only form of play I still practice is video games I would say. So I would say the forms of play have changed dramatically as I grow older.

I recollect many memories of play from when I was younger it has influenced my life a lot. I remember the how much fun I had in gym class and in little league. I think that it has shaped my personality as well as my professional life. I’m a very playful person. I love sports and love seeing kids enjoy them as well. I think that is why I want to be a gym teacher, because seeing kids experiencing that same joy that I once experienced as a child brings back great memories. I believe that play is a very social thing. I think that if you were younger and went out and played with the neighborhood kids that when you get older you will be a more sociable person. The same affect on the opposite end. I think that if you sat inside playing video games your whole childhood, once you get older is going to be harder to be social.

I think play has changed my life in many factors. I think it helped make me more sociable. I think it shaped my personality and the choice of my career in Physical Education as well.

When I was young play was something I did to pass the time or to relax after school. Play consisted of games of tag and doge ball anything to exert energy. We would occasionally have a friendly game of kick ball and baseball. I still like to stay active exerting energy makes people stay positive. My forms of play now are more sport oriented such as swimming softball and running. I would have to say my forms of play now are much more structured. Not many people take time for play, there for making in more of a solo activity. There are some groups you can join to play almost any sport just for fun. Time is needed to join these groups witch is why lots of people now a days miss out on play.
When playing when I was little I was almost all the time the youngest, I always had to stride to be on the same level as the other kids I played with. That has taught me to work hard, with my history of play and sports I have learned it is worth putting extra time in something in the end it will be better for me.
Play has helped me get involved in many sports, play when you get older is harder to come buy. Some people join sports teams because they have exceptional skill in the sport, and for some people it is simply just a form of play. Play has taught me to turn my relaxation and leisure time into something that makes me fell positive. Sometimes when playing a sport becoming overly competitive taking away what play is for people. Play has taught me to approach life with whatever outcome or block I may get in the future there is a way around it.

The program on play was terrific!! Even though the topic is being studied, too many children are not getting enough, if any, of the play they so badly need. Adults are not doing that well either.

My story comes from my role as a preschool teacher and director.

I found that, while, as a whole, the early childhood profession is committed to the importance of play in the lives of young children, the fact that it is largely a profession of women, and women tend to be uncomfortable with them, the subjects of risk taking and rough-and-tumble play are too little addressed.

As soon as I entered the profession, I began questioning some of the unwritten but regularly invoked rules of the playground and realized I needed to teach the children how to safely do the "dangerous" things they wanted to attempt (and show teachers how to safely premit more freedom in the play).

Examples:
Until I intervened, children were not permitted to climb up the slides - they were required to go up the ladders/steps and slide down. I insisted that children could climb up slides safely - if they learned to check to be sure there was a clear path whichever way they wanted to go. And to negotiate with the other children using the slide. Beep, beep has moved many a dawdling child along to make room for an impatient classmate.

Pushing and shoving and "wrestling" were not permitted. Because I felt that those rules were suppressing rough-and-tumble play and that the children were failing to develop important skills as a result, I taught them how to recogize when play was becoming too rough for them and taught them the concept of time out the way it's used in sports - as a break for regrouping. They learned to give the handsignal and learned to honor it when a playmate invoked time out for regrouping.

This sort of approach was a great help to many children who had the drive to take risks and had been in noncompliance with the constraining rules. I noticed that the children who had complied began to become more adventurous. And there was no noticeable increase in accidents and injuries.

I should also note that before I became a preschool teacher, I was the mother of two young children. My husband, a HS teacher, quickly developed the routine of coming home and taking our child (and, later, children) to the playground for an hour or two in the late afternoon. When she about 15 month I was about to take our first child to the playground without him, but I was unable to leave until I had received a list of instructions about how to let her take risks, climb, etc. without sacrificing her safety. Evidently, he had seem too many mothers and nannies preventing the kind of toddler adventure he felt was important. That has stuck with me as an amusing and illustrative anecdote that I use when talking with teachers and parents. That and, at about the same time, a comment by a slightly more experienced parent than I: She informed me that if my child were to reach her first birthday without any scratch, bump, or bruise, then I should consider myself an overprotective parent.

My experiences with preschoolers and as a parent have made me a strong advocate for play in the lives of everyone, and have continually reminded me that the playful approach is often the best. I also find it helpful, as a naturally cautious person, to have this experience as a reminder that I, too, should not fear taking reasonable risk.

I wish I had a photo to share, but I do not.

Janet Sherman

Margaret Smith
27 August 2007
PHE 125
Assignment #2
Word Count: 519

Sport has given me a new look on life since a very young age. Sports are a huge part of my life and still I continue playing and being involved at a higher level in college. My memories in sports have pushed to become the athlete I am today and the person as well.

Since I was four, soccer has been in my life as well as the competition that goes along with it. As time went on I have been transferred into a totally different player, by being more aggressive and a smarter player on the field, which is very important in the game of soccer. Soccer forces you to be quick, and make your decisions even before the ball is being played to you forcing you to think ahead, and also being made into a smarter player by learning the game and the simple ways it can be played.

The memories that shaped me into the player I am now would have to be camps, coaches and observations. The camps have given me a new perspective of the game by playing with new players and having new coaches to teach me a new, and maybe even a better way to play the game. The coaches in my life definitely have made me a better player by being there year around for help, also by being able to go to someone who knows you, and who you know which can help you because they know the player you are, and the player you are capable of being on the field. The observations would be attending games and watching them on the televisions. It helps when you watch older and professional players on the field to teach you their style of play, and also learning how many different styles of play are out there and not thinking there is only one way to play the game.

The ways that sport has changed me into the person I am would be getting involved at such a young age. I understand the importance if trying new things in life and how it has made the impact it did. I enjoy the competition, aggressiveness and being able to recollect all my teachings so I can use them to become smarter player on the field. It has made an influence on me to stay around sports during the rest of my life because I enjoy every part of what it is made of. I know that I will never be able to play soccer all my life but I can do my part in teaching other people what I know to help them, and teach them what I know and, they can teach me too. I think this perspective not only applies to soccer but all sports, even though it can be a completely different game and also the way to think about how to play could be completely different, but I think they will all have the same impact if you love the game and everything it is made of.

I wanted to share with you a website: www.bullies2buddies.com teaches how to adopt the spirit of play and by doing so shape our character and learn how to relate to other.

Please visit free on line manual: http://www.bullies2buddies.com/manual/kids/index.html that teaches victims of bullying and teasing how to laugh off teasing and instead of getting upset learn the lessons.

Best Wishes,
Miriam Kalman

1.)
The different forms of play have been evolving for many years in multiple ways especially in my lifetime. When I was younger with little to no responsibilities my play time was much different than it is now in college. For instance I never worried about how much time I had to play or where I was going to play. I simply knew dinner and dark were the only times that I had to return to home. As I grew older and entered middle school my play mainly consisted of sports, other friend’s houses, and other social activities. By this age my time to play was not nearly as limited as it is now, and was about equal to when I was younger. Once I entered high school a lot of my free time to play was taken away by homework, sports, work, etc.
Age has changed my play in many different ways especially since playing has always been a big part of my life. Mostly responsibilities have changed and limited my play. Currently my play consists of multiple different sports such as basketball, and occasionally softball as well as relaxing, partying, girls, and friends. I find myself searching for time to play as much as possible where as when I was younger I had all the time in the world to play. Play has changed tremendously throughout my life but no matter the changes play has always occurred to have fun.
2.)
I most certainly recollect many of my memories of playing that shape or explain the person I am currently. The ones I can’t remember are most possibly remembered by others or visually seen with a picture. Being that play is definitely one of my favorite aspect of life it shows exactly who I am. Memories with sports explain my competitiveness such as baseball, basketball, football, or any outdoor activity for that matter. All my memories of play all have one attribute in common and that is that when I play; I play to have fun. No matter if I were outside with friends on a basketball court, or in a tournament in another state, it was all to have fun while competing. Professionally I personally think this makes myself easy to work with as well as makes work easier for myself. Play is one of my most important aspects of life, I look for it whenever its there and I’m always trying to find time to spend time “playing”. When I was a child playing was most definitely virtually my most important course of life; I had all the time in the world to play and I spent every moment of it doing so.
3.)
Play itself has a major importance in my life each and everyday especially since I don’t have much time to spend doing it. Life revolves around duties, assignments, responsibilities, etc so therefore any moment of the day I’m not attending to those aspects I spend time relaxing, going out with friends, or playing sports competitively. I encourage everyone to play more in their life; honestly I feel play time relaxes you and allows for the mind clear up ultimately aiding you with all the other responsibilities of life. My course of life has changed because of life, my chosen career was chosen because I wanted a job that I respected and felt the most comfortable doing. When I choose my vehicles that I drive I choose the ones I can have the most fun while driving which mostly relates to performance. When its appropriate play changes my choices and assignments in life. Play most definitely changes every form of approach I have going in and out of my everyday life.

Just want to bring up the story today that a school in the US has banned playing "tag" according to the car radio today because "it leads to [scuffles or something]" I suspect you can search the story on the web for your theme - no reference to me necessary.

- Bill Thompson

"It's All In The Playing" is a book written by the highly spiritual Shirley MacLaine.

I read it. I got it. I thouroughly understood It. Whatever it is. Name It, Claim It and feed It peanuts.....I knew exactly what Ms. Maclaine wrote about because I had been doing it all my life. Shirley just put it into words. When one does not know one is doing something and then someone comes along and gives it name and professes the same ideology, that's pretty enlightening.

Healthy play is os very important for me.

I know the difference and I control the play.

Physical play teaches healthy aggression and strategy.
Mental play stimulates the mind into quasi illusion, we create and decide which is which.

I adore play.

In these times of constantly amusing ourselves to death with this gadget or that or screen, it helps to have developed a healthy sense of amusement just for ones ownself.

Yes, play is very important for the creative soul, even if you're just playing with yourself. (which has no sexual connotation whatsoever)

Buddahists have adopted this thinking because essentially we compete with our own selves and forego the Western version of competitive play. It baffles a lot of Westerners, but we understand it completely.

That's about all I have to say on the art of playing. And it is an artform. A highly evolved artform at that.

FAITH – By Nosa Obaseki

In my English class we recently read the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. BNW is a satirical piece of fiction in which religion has been replaced with reverence to technology and the dangers of an all powerful state. I found that faith was heavily involved in this book. For instance, everybody had to believe the same thing to make society work. Through several class discussions I learned that faith in Christianity was not highly favored by my classmates and that many of them had a negative view of Christians. They were voicing out their opinions about my faith without really knowing much about it and that made me angry because I felt my faith and I were being disrespected. I know from personal experience that it’s so easy to feel troubled and alone, but when you do feel troubled and alone, it is helpful to think of Jesus’ message: there are dark times ahead but there is help — from the Holy Spirit, from the Father and the Son. I wish I could have found a way to express the good things I find in the Christian faith to my classmates, but in my world, it is considered really weird to be an expressive Christian.

Religion can be a very touchy subject among teenagers and I suppose that’s true among adults as well. People make lots of assumptions based on reactions of a few people, and they don’t understand that there are many varieties in Christian faith, or Islam or Judaism for that matter. There’s a lot of prejudice. Recently, I had a substitute teacher in my math class. He looked of Arabic descent and had a different accent. Some students in the class stated that the only thing he could teach us is how to make bombs. The things you hear in high school are quite appalling. You would think that in such a diverse school as Huron High school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, there would be less prejudice, but sadly there’s not.

What my classmates, and many in our society don’t understand, is how faith can be life changing. Faith to me is essential and it’s the foundation on which Christianity is based on. In today’s scriptures we find that faith is a major theme. In the gospel of John, Jesus talks about faith and by having faith in Jesus you have faith in God. Jesus goes on to say “Those who love me will keep my word, and my father will love them.” It seems like Jesus wants to help us have a better understanding of who God is.

Who is God? According to today’s gospel reading, God is someone who loves his children and gives them shelter. God is greater than Jesus, but closely related to him and sends us the Holy Spirit, who stays with us and teaches us. God loves us even when we falter in our faith. The Lord is still faithful to us even when we are not faithful to him. Jesus’ example of faithfulness shows us how to be people of faith.

I had a very different experience of faith when my mother and I went to Nigeria in 1996. In Nigeria faith is a key element in the society and I noticed a type of communal faith was emphasized. When I was there, the family had evening prayer together a couple of times a week. It was a time when the entire family would come together, pray and sing songs of worship; this would go on for a couple of hours. It also was a time of bonding for the family. Our faith strengthened not only each individual, but the family as a whole.

When we come together on Sundays to worship, God increases our faith and our friendships. That’s why I hold onto this faith that so many of my friends do not comprehend. My faith gives me a sense of community and a connection. It helps me through the dark times. I know that some aspects of Christianity deserve the bad publicity it gets in today’s society and Christians have not always been respectful of other faiths. The lack of respect among faiths is a major cause of problems in the world. It is important to have faith in something beyond yourself. One might recognize that there are many kinds of faith, and give each person’s faith respect. Faith I believe, brings you peace. For me that peace is in Jesus, who gives us peace as the world cannot give.

Scripture records eight Beatitudes. But I believe there is a ninth: Blessed are they who play, for the Lord God Himself will come down, sit on the ground and play with them.
I'm a Catholic nun. I've found the Divine in play; or play in the Divine. Both, actually. On a thirty-day retreat some years ago, I wondered how you could pray all day. How can you think about or talk to God all day? for thirty days! Then I thought of it as a vacation with the Lord. Between the assigned meditations, I imagined myself playing with the Lord, together, like friends, just knocking around, pitching horseshoes, throwing hickory nuts, running barefoot in the meadow, eating oranges on a rail fence. It was intimate and awesome. Accompanying Jesus in his passion was all the more poignant after this, and it sharpened my understanding of the Paschal Mystery--the dying and rising, the mixture of joy and sorrow in life. This retreat helped shape my understanding and relationship with the Divine, and has sustained and delighted me over the years. We still play, and it is still awesome.
Sister Marcia Kruse,asc

Like most children, my kids enjoyed playing soccer, basketball, baseball and other team sports when they were young. Sometimes, I would coach their teams.
During those years, my job was preparing market studies and teaching economics – especially the benefits of competitive markets. Most of my work was focused on the industrial real estate markets. Evenings and weekends, I coached sports. For several years, I wondered why all sports and games keep score the same way. I questioned why the scoring system in sports is so different from the way we measured success in work.
The only way one sports team could win was if the other team lost. The first question most of the kids heard when they arrived home was “Did you win?” The children learned that winning was the goal, the measure of success. Therefore, the other team was the barrier.
Although commercial real estate is a highly competitive sector of the economy, not all of the dealings are win-lose contests. In fact, most transactions are not win-lose. Most deals require collaboration among people from several different sides: buyer and seller as well as the technical services – legal, financial, engineering, etc.
A successful deal ends with the buyer and seller walking away both feeling like a winner. A healthy transaction is one in which both sides benefit. The buy-sell agreement is entered into because both parties feel it is in their interest to make the deal.
The agents are trying to structure win-win relationships. Either both sides succeeded – otherwise both sides fail.
In the short run, one side may “win” by damaging the other. For example, the seller may trick the buyer into overpaying for the transaction. What I learned by working 16 years in industrial real estate is that in the long run, trickery comes back to the damage of the trickster.
As I considered the lessons I learned in the market, I wondered why there weren’t more opportunities for children to experience winning on a win-win basis. The more I coached, the more the questions grew:
• We have games that score our ability to compete against each other. Can we score our ability to cooperate with each other?
• We know how to measure competitive skill. Can we use similar processes to score cooperative skill?
• Since we can invent new games, what kind of games do we need to score cooperation?
• What effect does the way we keep score have on the system of values we give children?
• Is there an advantage to scoring the ability to bring out the best in others?
• Can we create a greater ability to appreciate diversity by scoring cooperation?
• Does scoring cooperation improve our understanding of competition?
• What games do we want to give to our children?

For the past twelve years I have been working on practical answers to these questions by developing a method of measuring cooperative performance that can be used in new versions of baseball, basketball, chess, checkers, and spelling bees.

The thesis is that we can increase peace and productivity by playing games that score cooperation. If children grow up understanding cooperation as clearly as they now understand competition, they will have the tools needed to create a more tolerant and peaceful society.

My personal goal is to learn how to apply these ideas more effectively in my own life. I have a long way to go, but I see ways that these games have helped me be a better husband, father, and worker.

If I had grown up playing both kinds of games – traditional win-lose games and games that score on a win-win basis – I suspect that I would be more successful in family life and work life.

I hope that my grandchildren will grow up with the opportunity to play in leagues that use EnTeam sports and games. I believe these games can help them and their communities to be more peaceful and more productive.

With that goal in mind, I am working to establish leagues in which children learn by playing with new games that score cooperative performance that they can measure collaboration as accurately and fully as they can measure competition – and they can have fun in the process.

When I think of play, I think of dramatic play which turned into a love for the theater. While I no longer actively participate in community theater as a performer, I am an active supporter of the theater in my community. I attend and financially support all kinds of theater from school productions to Broadway. I have shared this passion with my husband and we have passed this passion on to our son. Theater has greatly enriched my life. As a market researcher, I draw on its insights frequently to understand our consumers. It has enriched my spiritual life as well, giving me a broader appreciation for new ideas and different cultures.

Play is timeless and brings forth the Spirit of wonder so
vital to our being.
I have 6 children and 19 grandchildren.
My husband died at the age of 31.
In those difficult early days, we grieved, but we did not
give up our time for play. I remember the simple act of driving down the road, singing "did you ever see a lassy go this way and that way" as I would carefully sway the car back and forth on an empty country road. The giggles from the back of the station wagon, confirmed what I knew in my heart and soul, we were a whole and holy family.
We would choose life and choose it's abundance of joy.

I am now hearing the timeless giggles of my grandchildren
in my backseat, to the same simple lassie.

My daughter-in-law, Debbie, is our game leader. She has a gift for selecting games and getting us going. When we gather, everyone can't wait to be finished with the meal, so we can play.
We have many memories that bring smiles to our hearts on days when we are apart. Many inside jokes that bond us. I can see the children share the desire to be a part of our family play. Our play increases our wellbeing as individuals and as a family.
On this Labor Day, when my days of work are long or difficult, my Spirit is renewed with the thought that not too far away is another family play date.
Rita Warner
Kent, Ohio

As a child I enjoyed drawing, walking the beaches of Long Island Sound in Mildford Connecticut, and reading biographies. As an adult, 64, today I paint "from the source" with tempera paints, walk the Arkansas River Park trails in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and write poetry, fiction and non-fiction. I loved poetry as a child and I began writing it in my mid to late forties; I loved to read as a child and still do today. I just finished reading a novel that transported me back to the east coast where I grew up. For three days, I've been immersed in this book, with no other thought during times when I "must" do something than "when I can get back to the novel." When our granddaughters were young, I took such special delight in playing with them, that one of them asked me, "Nana, are you a kid?" In my retirement, I enjoy the free flow of my days, the times when I can choose to play, to take a break from volunteer commitments no matter how noble. It is when I am painting with tempera paints, with no thought of what brush stroke comes next, that I lose all sense of time and am filled with the joy of being alive.

To begin, I want to relate a story about something I saw back in 1985 which made me realise the natural world is not a cruel and impersonal force which refines through creating a hostile environment where only the strong survive.

I live in a city, and at the time lived in a high-rise building. I was working then in the chemistry department of a large hospital, which was only a short bus ride away.

While waiting for the bus one fall day I happened to notice some small birds flying around the front of my building. Now there was nothing unusual about these small birds except for what they were up to. Because of the wind that day there was strong column of air being generated in one corner of the high-rise where the "flying buttress" intersected the main part of the structure

I watched in amazement as these birds each took their turn at swooping into the column of air near the ground, then spread their wings, and let the vertical updraught carry them about 8 or 10 stories. They would then bank like a airplane out of the column, dive for the ground and repeat the process. There was no other purpose for this action than for play!

The perspective I have gained on playing is that it serves both the purpose of allowing a developing child or animal to "practice", as it were relating to the real world without creating damaging anxiety and fear, and allows the mind, in a non-competitive, off-line sense, to create new possibilities. Without this play time, humans would never achieve the heights they have.

In my experience, playing heals mild depression. Oddly enough, a young seagull taught me this lesson.
Once, in my late thirties,I went through a period of feeling particularly low, nothing seemed to pull me out of a deep sense of general gloom. It was a late February afternoon, the rain had temporarily ceased, and I thought a walk on the beach might clear my head.
Many gulls circled over head, sailing on the ocean breezes. I noticed one brown speckled gull drop something and went to investigate. It turned out to be a wine bottle cork. I picked it up. Glancing upwards, I saw this same gull circling close by. On a whim,I tossed the cork high up in the air. The gull dove and caught it. He (she?) dropped it and caught it in mid air a few times, then missed again and the cork landed on the sand a second time very near me.
Okay. My curiosity was kindled. Would this gull continue? I snatched up the cork and threw it high in the air again. Sure enough, the same gull swooped down and snagged it, once more dropping and catching the cork as he swirled in the air. We engaged in this activity for close to a half an hour.
There was no doubt in my mind. The adolescent gull was playing with me! I started laughing. My depression lifted immediately and I went home with a whole new perspective, filled with joy.
The memory of this very special day still feeds my soul.

I keep rediscovering those fly away pieces of my childhood times of playing. They come at me in waves of sensations of being 3,4,and now 5. I have day cared my almost five granddaughter since her birth. She is a lively spirited soul who thinks that the reason I exist is to play with her. I am a task oriented kind of person and 'playing' was something my husband had been good at with our children were younger. He'd roll on the floor with them, say silly things, and encorage them to play with the dog. While day caring my granddaughter it occured to me that I didn't know how to play. She taught me. Be Here Now, Make up things, and Play it again. I soon began to play my own games and started writing getting lost and taken away in the delight of tossing letters around on a screen. I wrote a book, PLAY WIT ME NANA. (Looking for a publisher) I began playing with blogging. Blogging is one of my favorite games. My granddaughter opened up a whole new part of my brain. Play has made excited about each day! It is a healing and whole place. Connie www.playwitmenana.blogspot.com

Creative Expressive Healing PlayShops
with Doris Goodill, R.N. & Judi Belanger, R.N.
You are invited to come and have FUN while decreasing stress and supporting your immune system. We will be learning relaxation techniques through the modalities of the creative arts. In other words, we will be PLAYING with paint, sound, movement and writing to help erase our “old rules” about our human right to be creative.
Doris Goodill and Judi Belanger, both Registered Nurses with long
Operating Room careers, are Best Friends of 30 years. Now they offer
workshops in the creative art of PLAY by combining their
appreciation for what is termed Complementary Medicine with their
lifelong interest in art, needlework, and crafts.

Play has always been a part of my life ... but it became even more so when I started teaching young children! Learning from young children changed the course of my life. You can see how by visiting: http://www.tomorrowmakers.org/gail-taylor/

Our recognition of Group Genius could not erupt without spontaneous play. For the last 30 years I have been watching corporate executives, government leaders and communities in conflict discover the fine art of collaborative play. I think you will enjoy this video from the World Economic Forum: http://www.tomorrowmakers.org/the-workspace/

By the way, we don't talk about play. We talk about solving complex problems. It happens through play!

In playfulness,

Gail

Play has not really changed over time for me. I still love the same things I loved as a child. Snowmen, kites, picnics, laughing, sand castles,and star hikes.
Just recently I had the chance to spend hours in the snow on Easter day making large snow bunnies with my son and my two young nephews. We also created a snow couch ("snouch") and a snow chair ("Snair") and other snow furniture.
It was a delightful day of play and we created sustainable memories. (I have pictures I can send)

I am the person I am today because of a childhood sense of wonder and play. My mother was rather orderly in some ways but she was also spontaneous and unique in her ability to play. Most play I remember was outside and it involved a picnic or an adventure of some sort. Some of the play was funny - like running down the street with a manaquine and putting it at people's doors, ringing the door bell and hiding.

The memories I have from my childhood directly effect how I raise my children and my love for wonder, awe and laughter.

Play has influenced my approach to life significantly. I try to bring joy into every aspect of my life. Everything can be fun and involve play - even work. I love to bring out the playfullness in others. I am also sensitive to the extreme stress and opression people seem to accumulate.

I oversee a summer camp and that is a fabulous arena for play. Last year we had a Fairy tale party and everyone had to come as a character from a fairy tale. We had children and elderly together. Our youngest was 8 and our oldest fairy Godmother was 85 years old. Everyone had a playful day with joy and laughter.

I have a daughter with a disability and she is a sense of joy for me. She is playful and childlike in someways but also profoundly kind and truthful. She connects with the playful spirit in others. Even when she was born and I found out that she had a disability I wanted to continue to enjoy life and enjoy her. I was terrified that her disability would steal that from our life and so I protected the joy by playing and having fun.

Life is too short not to play!
Last summer I went to a Humor Conference and it was so wonderful to be with likeminded individuals that I vow to go every year!
Play is the healthiest thing I do!!

This past year my sister and I were each dealing with significant loss. We live 80 miles apart and found a unique and playful way to offer one another mutual support. On a whim, we started a weekly photo scavenger hunt, using random lists of words from friends and family as prompts, shooting digital images from our daily lives and posting them on individual blogs. The photo hunts provided a creative backdrop upon which we could honor each other's journey and enjoy our often divergent perspectives. Along the way, our talented niece joined in, and collectively we have captured a few amazing pictures. Family gatherings now involve enthusiastic story telling about how we got the shot, and ofcourse, about the ones that got away.

You can check out the evidence of our friendly game at

http://maryspicturescavengerhunt.blogspot.com/

http://thewestminsterphotohunter.blogspot.com/

The forms of play have been like the tides of the ocean for me. Low tide for lengthy periods and the exciting waves mounting and splashing now.

During a particularly difficult period in my life, I completely lost the sense of play. A friend started asking me what I was doing for fun and I realized the question was creating more stress in me. I knew it was time for change. I invited friends to the partk to skip. And I continued on the pathway to play. I began researching it and realizing its powerful potential role for adults.

I now do Adult Recess (www.recesslady.com). We partake in the pure pleasure of play that children do at recess. It is rewarding to see the transition as people step over from observation to participation. Hoola hooping, hop scotch, jump rope, coloring, play dough and more. We shift into the timelessness of being and become recharged as we head back into the rest of the world.

Play, both my own and sharing it with others, has been very enlightening and rewarding for me. I have seen and felt the sheer energy in many environments -- working individuals, people at adult day care and people in early addiction recovery at halfway houses. Different life circumstances, same responses to play. Its rewards are universal!

I am very grateful to have rediscovered it and to share it.

P.S. Attached picture is me, Recess Lady, at Adult Recess on my 59th birthday! Fun! Fun! Fun! Recess Mates brought me the crown and wand!!

"How Water Learned to Play" by Ted Hughes is my life

M story here (in brief below)
http://www.nyx.net/~kbilton/jimsbio.htm

I'm 59 - Anyone who used their adult life to work in the World Trade Center, hitchhike 80,000 miles, make 10,000 calls to persons grieving death over 18 years(unpaid), make fifty hours of regionally broadcast documentaries, conduct (unpaid) 800 support groups on grief, pick twelve full seasons of apples throughout New England - about thirty tons each season - at times have almost no money - and eventually be elected to be a six-year term County Commission in a county of 50,000 people --

is how I have played.

When someone asked me why I spent twenty hours a week as a volunteer on an oncology unit at a hospital I told them the truth - I feel good about myself.

At Colgate where I went - I was very decisively influenced by the Dance of Zorba the Greek at the end of that movie

After all is said and done after calamity -- we must dance and plan again for what comes.

I wrote a thousand essay about all this for my college alumni magazine

jim Surkamp Shepherdstown, WV

304 261 7911

Great program. Defining play is fascinating. Dr Brown mentions that it is purposeless, yet I wonder. To play a game like chess sucessfully, requires competitive drive. Playing at an advanced level requires considerable thought. If this is "Play" then is it also play when an individual plays with ideas that have a competive outcome? Can one "play" vicariously, watching children at play, a baseball game, our pets chasing around the yard, or watching the world unfolding with the complex interplay of human and natural forces? When one gets paid to do a task that the doer sees as pleasurable (likely Dr. Brown's job)can it, or parts of it, be play?

i'm a retired registered investment advisor. beginning in my college days, i've had a lifelong passion for photography. since retiring from the world of finance, i've opened a photography studio on lower Broadway in my native New York City, enabling me to indulge this passion full time.

camera at the ready, i'm currently on what i call "an American haj": a few days ago i was in Memphis (Tennessee, not Egypt) visiting Graceland. i'm now sitting outside an eatery with wi-fi service in Tupelo, Mississippi, where Elvis was born and raised until the age of 13.

as everyone knows, Elvis made his living "playing" on the guitar. and, as most know, life at Graceland was what Lisa Marie described as a "fun house".

but, as many also know, Elvis had a sober, spiritual side. he remained faithful to the down-home religious tradition he was raised in, and gospel music was always his favorite musical genre.

not as well known is that towards the end of his life, Elvis hooked up with someone who might be described as a New Age spiritual guru. as this man later related, when they met
Elvis told him that people didn't realize that he felt lonely and empty all the time.

thereafter, while on tour Elvis always brought along a pile of books his new spiritual guide had recommended. i feel it's very sad that Elvis's earnest quest for spiritual wholeness was not able to arrest his downward spiral, which ended with his death at age 42.

in your program on play and spirituality this morning, your guest mentioned that children's playgrounds are now being designed with multiculturalism in mind.

this reminded me of one of the posters along the Walk of Life section of the property where the two-room house Elvis was born in still stands. it is testimony to skills Elvis learned while playing sports that i believe he carried with him in later life.

i've attached a photo i took of the poster.

I am an early childhood educatior who has, as a result of my training, always valued play as a way of teaching and learning for young children. My committment to the necessity of play deepened tremendously 3 years ago when I took a job after Hurricane Katrina with the Mississippi State University Early Childhood Institute and met the founder of Project Joy in Boston. My job was to find an intervention that child care providers and teachers could be trained to implement with children who had suffered the trauma of the storm. I wanted a program that would be centered on play because, as Fredrick Froebel proposed, I believe play is the way in which children make their internal world external and their external world internal. Play would be the way they made sense of the horrors of the storm. I also wanted a program that would address the mental health needs of the caregivers because they had to be able to cope themselves before they could help children. After hearing of Project Joy through a professional contact, I connected with Steven Gross the founder of Project Joy. He presented to me by phone this remarkable exuberant, physical play intervention that he had been using in Boston since 1989. It was one of those illuminating moments when I knew I had found not only an amazing program, but also a person in Steve who had a perceptive understanding of the power of play to heal not only children, but also adults. We immediately put a plan into place to begin to train teachers across the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the programs of Project Joy. The response from teachers has been phenomenal. They love the training, and request to return time after time. The training doesn't simply tell about the program, it engages the teachers in the same robust, exuberant play designed to be used with children. It calls upon teachers to cosider their own joyfulness and how they participate in self-care. The training engages teachers in the process of creating their own joyful, playfulness plan. My involvement with Project Joy has prompted me to seriously examine my own joyfulness and playfulness. My efforts to become more playful have changed my personal outlook on life and has created within me a great value for living in the present and cultivating playful interactions with my family and friends. This work is so rewarding, and MSU Early Childhood Institute is currently working to find funding to train teachers throughout the state of MS. We have trained over 300 teachers in the state and have provided follow-up assistance to insure teacher comfort and competence in implementing the program. We have recently completed a small study to atempt to determine the effectiveness of the program toward social/emotional development of young children and are in the process of analyzing the data. There is also a documentary in the editing process about the work of Project Joy in Mississippi. You can find additional information about Project Joy at www.projectjoy.com and film info at www.projectjoymovie.com. Attached is a picture of PJ trainees playing cooperative musical chairs during one of the training sessions. Thanks so much for your attention to play through today's show and through the blog reflecting the host's interest in this topic. Play is an essential part of a healthy life, and we absolutely must return play to childhood if we want to nurture whole, and healthy people. Thanks,
Pamela Myrick-Mottley
Mental Health Technician
Misssissippi State University Early Childhood Institute

As a young child, I had already noticed the three major demands of play; Strength, stamina, and skill. My childhood games included baseball, hockey, football, biking, swimming, team chase games, and snow shoveling.
Yes, for me, snow shoveling was play. I would spend hours tunneling through snowbanks, or piling snow to make igloos and forts. At the age of eight, I remember running two hundred yards without stopping and feeling very proud of myself. At the age of twelve, I remember lifting the whole one hundred ten pounds of my barbell set over my head. At this same age I pitched on my little league team and could throw fifteen strikeouts in one game. I captained my high school football team and wrestling team. So I did learn young that strength, stamina, and skill made playing the game even more rewarding.
Play taught me about morality too. I learned cooperation, following rules, being fair, winning and losing like a gentleman. I didn´t think much about these things at the time, but, in hindsight, I know that play planted good seeds for my moral development.
As a young adult I had a huge measure of strength, stamina, and skill. When I built my first home, I dug the basement hole with a shovel. I moved about one hundred fifty cubic yards of earth. As a father of three sons at age twenty seven, I would carry all three for twenty minutes or more when the were too tired to walk on their own feet. The oldest boy would sit on my shoulders while the other two would each ride an arm.
In my early thirties I biked over a hundred miles in a day and ran a marathon in five hours with no training during the two months preceeding the race. At age thirty seven I re-entered college and joined the wrestling team, winning four of eight matches. I stayed healthy through my forties, made a second marriage at forty six. Fathered my forth child at age forty eight. I am still playing with my child at age fifty two just as I did with her three brothers when they were small. So I believe it is fair to say that how I played in my youth set the tone for my whole life.

I really enjoyed the program about play. I had heard a report shortly around the time my oldest son was born that a child's work was their play and that they needed to do that in order to be healthy in mind and body. My 2 boys are in their late teens now, but I can see where their play in earlier years helped them to know what their talents are. I really was fascinated by their imaginations and how they played. I felt like I was reliving my own childhood. I played with them some of the time, but they were very good at entertaining themselves, so I would observe from a distance. When I tried to direct their play, they would get frustrated and want to do something else. They could play for hours with GI Joes, match box cars, beanie babies, and art supplies and be perfectly content. I found little GI Joes propped up on canned goods in my kitchen cabinets, hanging from light fixtures, and in silk flower arrangements. I thought that was great so I just left them there. The GI Joes also attended school and had contests with each other. I could not keep enough books on hand for my oldest son or art supplies for my youngest son. My oldest son used to draw maps of cities that he made up. I still have the "newspaper" that they made and it was not even homework. At about age 14 and 12, they made a hilarious movie with their friend about gangsters, which kept them busy and out of trouble for a long time. I was allowed to help with the movie by driving my van down the driveway as a getaway vehicle.

My oldest son went through a period of teenage angst where all he wanted to do was play video games and he talked about not wanting to work as an adult. This lasted for quite awhile and made me very nervous. He has a step-brother that introduced him to the high school theater and he never looked back. He emerged with a passion for theater and music and he is really quite talented at both. He has appeared in some community productions and taught himself how to play the guitar. My younger son is a very talented artist and is taking advanced art classes in high school that also give him college credit. I am happy that they found their natural gifts and they did it themselves. My hope is that they never lose their desires to pursue the things that they really enjoy. Sometime life becomes so stressful and busy that adults forget that it's ok to have some fun on a regular basis.

As usual, an invigorating and thoughtful program today, July 27, 2008. As a mental health therapist, I often see the downside of the American emphasis on doing as in work instead of being as in play. I personally recover playfulness as the grandmother of a 6 year old who loves to play chase and is always happy to have a playmate, even one who will soon not be able to catch him.
Susan Zall

I am, according to my mother, "only" eighteen. And yet eighteen years of life have given me some perspective on play; perhaps some perspective that adults have lost as they become more career-oriented. At the age of eighteen, I don't yet HAVE a career to pull me away from play.

And play I do. I was glad to hear that reading is a form of play--for me, it has been the primary way of playing. I read any book that piques my interest, any book that makes me laugh or think or lose myself in its pages. The fun--that's the only word for it, fun--that I have reading makes me want to share the experience with all the people I love. That's why I like to read to my nieces and nephews. Not only is just being with them and playing with them a wonderful way to play, but by reading to them I share my love of books and have double the fun: Fun hanging out with kids and fun reading!

There are other ways I play, too. I like to swing on the swings at the local parks. I like to bike ride and do crossword puzzles and write long letters to, among others, one of my favorite radio programs (ahem). And, though it is a bit embarrassing to admit, I like to play with my niece and her doll house. She and I set up the furniture, and then we rearrange it again and again. We also play "house" together (she is always the mommy) and sometimes just romp around the house, simply playing.

I'll be starting college soon. I'll be in a serious-sounding program: Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. But no matter how intimidating the actual curriculum may be, I know I will have fun. Because surrounding myself in play has made me realize that people who don't ever play are embittered and cynical. My grandmother, who lives with me, is often sour or sad. She has had a hard life, and recently lost her beloved husband. She can seem perpetually bitter. However, when her great-grandchildren come to visit, her face lights up and she is happy; happy because when they come to visit she gets to play. She gets to hear their little voices and watch them invent spontaneously games and activities. Play energizes my grandmother and gives her chance to feel young at heart again.

By immersing myself in play, I have changed the way I am approaching college, and approaching life as a whole. L. Frank Baum dedicated his books to the young and the young at heart. I want to be young at heart. And to be young at heart, I believe, I must do what the young in years do. I must play.

At some point, I will respond to the above questions. But for now...

I live in Austin TX and we often have long periods without any rain. When we finally get rain, I have noticed that many people, including me, walk at a slow pace in it, just getting wet, even if they have rain gear with them. When I see them, I really see a “kid” when they/me did not care about getting wet. Rain was for play whether just getting wet or sending boats, for me it was often just leaves with sticks, down the rushing water on the sides of the streets or splashing in every mud puddle available. However, if we have days of rain, people are rushing to avoid getting wet.

I really enjoyed listening to your program. The program gave me many things to think about, such as what my favorite form of play was as a child. Mine was making up imaginary friends, each with different traits, and writing and re-writing stories/plays about all of us. I like to research/write for school papers. Perhaps I need to re-visit my fiction writing talents.

Thank you for pursuing your research.

I loved this broadcast, particularly as it comes at a time in my life when I am "discovering" play in a new way. I thought I'd share a blog post I wrote on the topic just last month:

Monday, June 23, 2008
The Chapter in Which Kate Learns to Play
Sometimes I really do think I preach mostly to myself. I mean I do hope that what I say also is helpful to others (it's not all about me after all) but the words God gives me to say are so pointedly what I also need to hear that it's kind of hard not to take it in a directed sort of way and listen up.

For example, all this anti-anxiety stuff that I have had the privilege of spending time on lately. It's pretty hard to do two whole sermons on the idea that the God of the universe is attending to lilies and sparrows and the hairs of my head, and not get the notion that perhaps there's something here I need to attend to also. And since it comes at this time of great change and transition and, yes, no small amount of potential anxiety in my life, it is shall we say, interesting.

The thing of it is, it seems to be working. Perhaps the preacher is heeding her own message! Overall I am not feeling anxious about the future. Or even very much about the present. Or there is the niggling fear now and again about this "what are people thinking" about the whole break-up thing, and "what next for me" and all such as that. But for the most part, the former is a real non-issue, except for those who think my dating life (the one that exists only in fantasy, dear reader) is a topic of interest, and the later seems to not be getting my juices flowing these days. I'm getting my house in order in all sorts of ways and that feels ever so good. But there is something even more important that is happening. Something that crystallized for me just yesterday when my friend Sarah and I were on my second ever geocaching trip. I am playing!

This is a rather big deal. Play, being playful, has not ever been easy for me, even as a kid. I was born a forty year old. Solemn, introspective, quiet by nature, and nurtured by older and tired parents, who would just as soon I sat and read as did anything that might make a mess, I never really got the hang of playing in any kind of active way. Playing, if it went on, was a solitary thing that usually went on in my head, or at most on a walk or a bike ride on a quiet side street in our middling size town. A good day of play would be a trip to the library for new books or getting a new set of paper dolls. I did not, I think, play well with others. Part of what shaped this was definitely my mother. After being raised with four brothers and having two boys before me, my mom was so pleased to finally have a little girl, she was determined that I be raised like one. A significant part of that was for me to remain neat and tidy at all times. So my staying away from all opportunities for acquiring dirt was important. She also was quite afraid of anything that crawled or bit or stung and thought that they should have no opportunity to have at me either. Those two things alone leave out a lot. Add that to the fact that the only kids on my block when I was growing up were little boys, with whom you'd better believe this little princess was not associating, and there you are!

So you will now understand how much this all means when I tell you that yesterday I was not afraid when I climbed in the deep weedy ditch (so deep I could not see the bottom...there might have been snakes! That I climbed a tree, well not all the way up in it, but hey, I am middle-aged! That I....drum-roll please...stuck my hand in a rotted tree and rooted around in it to try to find the geocache. Heaven only knows what manner of thing might have been in there....and truth be told was...eeewww....but I lived! Scratched and scraped and dirty as all get out. Note to self: wear the long pants next time! But tired, happy and triumphant. We found the cache. That was awesome. I was ready to hang that up before we did. S was not, however! And it was very cool to find it. But it was not the prize for me but the quest, at least this time. And the realization at some point that it was an absolutely beautiful Sunday afternoon and my friend and I and our doggies were out in a ditch doing something messy and dirty that had the potential to get us scratched and scraped or worse (as Sarah had just sort of tumbled off the tree at that point and was laughing herself silly) that had absolutely no redeeming social value. In short, I was playing. And it felt wonderful!

I have always been v playful and in the past 2 yrs I have gone through a lot that has taken many of these moments away.One of my favorite things to do is just laugh with abandon and I believe laughter is a true form of yoga-you are totally present,focused,nothing else is on the mind and it's great for increased boxygen in the body too.

At any age play is best at its truest and simplest form.There is no doubt that it increased one health and well being mentally and physically.

As a parent,no matter what's going on, my motto for my two year old is "No worries."I still get a huge amount of joy (builing his treehouse) from what brings him joy.

Your comment about trying to learn to play at sixty made me want to tell of my experience at play. I am sixty seven now, but fifty seven was my worst year, culminating with a look in the mirror which made me decide something had to be done. The usual: buy the weights and use them at home, but how much fun is that. I think that play has to be social.
I started walking with a friend and then biking. I joined a gym and made myself go regularly. I walk two or three hours a day after work and go to the gym on alternate days. Now I'm walk/running two or three half marathons each year and biking a hundred twenty mile trail ride for MS. Last year I hike 250 miles of the Colorado Trail and went biking in the Andes on a trip to Peru. This past weekend I biked forty miles to visit my daughter to go tubing. Then biked back the following day.
I've gained about twenty five pounds without increasing my pants size. I don't dread looking in the mirror. I feel great. Sixty isn't too late to learn how to play.
Don't publish this, because it's no accomplishment; it's just play.

I hadn't thought about it as 'play' until your program aired last week. I am a member of a Congregation of Catholic Missionary Sisters. We have a tradition of celebrating special dates in the history of our Congregation as well as religious holidays. We celebrate with Mass together, a 'festive meal,' ice cream sodas, and entertainment. The entertainment, provided sometimes at the meal but more often later in the evening in a 'family room' is termed by us "Simplicity Night," and we ourselves are the entertainment. Small groups will present a skit, individuals will play a musical instrument, sing a song, tell some jokes, read a poem, dance. It really is a form of play and we enjoy it no end. Of course, there are always refreshments, too.

After listening to your program on 'PLAY,' I realize how wise our foundress was to start this kind of play among us, how it helps us to see each other, and life, from another prespective, enjoy, appreciate, admire and experieance the pure joy of each other and our life together. Enclosures: Kentucky Derby Day Party photos

Oh my, how I related to this program! As a youngster in the late 30s, 40s and early 50s, I would have made a ripe subject for Dr. Brown. Although I must have "played," I really don't recall any or much enjoyment from playing. I was an overprotected child as a result of a life threatening illness in babyhood, and my mother especially, regularly cautioned me to be careful of just about everything that had to do with sports, outdoor activity and what kids consider just fun. Also taking into account the fact that I am a "first child," I think you get the picture.

Well, I'm happy to report that all that changed as I hit midlife and released my seven children to their own dreams! Divorce also shifted my lifestyle, so that over the years, I recreated patterns that have brought me to a glorious place with two lifetime female friends who share the urge to play. Now in our 70s and coming together from different paths, we consider ourselves a living lesson for younger women who may be experiencing what we did over the past years...taking life too seriously and forgetting how to have fun!

We routinely emerge as "eccentric seniors" enjoying at every opportunity, whether it's buying and parading in outrageous hats or funky sneakers, dressing like triplets, dancing on the beach under the stars with goblets of champagne, traveling to interesting destinations for long weekends, riding the carousel, giggling over nothing like schoolgirls...you name it. We do it as often as we can!

Making up for lost time? Perhaps. However, the importance of spontaneity for each of us continues to create a web of wonderful memories. Spanning distance and individual responsibilities, our connection to each other and to playing truly keeps us youthful in body, mind and spirit.

Thank you for this chance to relive the importance of play in our lives. At this point in the journey, each of us is keenly aware of making the minutes count, and consider ourselves richly blessed and grateful for all that was and is.

I'm only 32, but was recently accused of not being playful by a couple different people. I've always thought of myself as young and playful and someone capable of experiencing joy, being spontaneous, being in the moment until I started graduate school. Progressively as I've moved through my masters and PhD, my life has felt heavier. I have become more serious, stressed, anxious, sadder, having fewer hobbies and a smaller circle of friends. For a long time I thought this was the necessary sacrifice to be successful. More than that though, I was drawn to graduate school because of a passion for my discipline. I found great joy in thinking and working in my area. Work was a source of intellectual and creative energy that was in some ways playful or at least as life affirming and nourishing as play. I pursued the work and the education for no other purpose other than curiosity, and in that sense it was like play. And so it seemed reasonable to throw myself completely into it, to the exclusion of other things.

Somewhere along the way, my relationship to my work changed and it changed my life in ways that have not healthy or beneficial. I have come to hate my work. I no longer get pleasure from thinking about ideas, working through problems, that I used to. I've lost the energy and creativity that propelled me in the past. The result has been this internal and now external rebellion. I am just now realizing, as I work towards finishing my dissertation, in my last year of grad school, that I have to play outside of work. I have to do things with no purpose, only for pleasure. Aside from just making me happier, I am hopeful that playfulness will bleed back into my work too.

In listening to the Dr. Brown piece on play today [4 Jul 09] I surprised that the work of the Chicago School Social Science professionals in the 1920's was not noted as an early study of play. George Mead studied and wrote academic articles [as well as a book] on play. The Chicago School included women social scientists who were instrumental in the development of the study of play.

I enjoyed the program, but was surprised that, having made the connection between play and spirituality, did it occur to no one that meditative and contemplative practices are a wonderful way to rediscover one's nature, and in the process, play? Mystics are so often playful, and play can be prayer, and prayer can be playful. There are levels and layers to play, and it goes much deeper than anyone suggested on your program. In a sense, play may be part of the very fabric of creation itself.

A difficult prospect for too many scientists, but surely not too much of a stretch for Speaking of Faith.

I was fortunate to have had parents, who despite their ancestral hard-wiring for hard work (Dutch-German), loved to play and sing and encouraged me to play. Their strongest encouragement for play, came in the form of music lessons from age five on the home spinet organ. From there I took coronet lessons in grade school and played and marched in the St. Therese Cathlic Grade School band. Then, with some hesitation on my father's part (it was the '60's after all), I received a guitar for Christmas; a SEARS guitar, top of the line, ordered from the catalog and almost $50! I could have it, but only with the promise that I not stop playing the organ. Deal! Fifty years later, I am still playing; organ, guitar, banjo, wash-tub bass, and a myriad of percussion instruments. Now I am doing that on a weekly basis at a local coffee house, leading a sing-a-long for kids; MUSIC FOR MUNCHKINS WITH GRANNY GOOCH. This is "just what the doctor ordered" as the saying goes as four months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am lucky and knew that I had to do something with this "gift of time" and love of play...thus arrived GRANNY GOOCH AND MUSIC FOR MUNCHKINS. For an hour I am singing and playing songs with kids between the ages of 3 and 8 years of age. We are having a blast. Playing, through music, has been my anchor as well as my sail, as I course through this life. It has carried me through the roughest of seas and shored me up when I wasn't sure I could go on. It has also kept me bouyant and light and free and full of "espirtus", breath, life. Emmy Lou Harris sings a song, SAILING THROUGH THE ROOM. It is about dying but it is so beautifully written, telling the story of how life goes on by being a part of "magnolias on the Mississippi" or "sands of the Kalhari"..and in music and song. I have requested that this song be played at my funeral. I hope someone says, "May she PLAY in peace!"

In May of 2005, when I was 57 years old, I was inspired to set up a play group for 6 women ranging from age 29 to 67. We have met once a month since that time, taking turns as hostess. Each hostess has to think of an activity that is "out of the box." We have only two rules, but they are important ones. We call them "play rules," double meaning intended. The first rule is that no personal issues are to be brought up for discussion or advice in any play group. Secondly, there is a difference between play and entertainment or work. Concerts, movies, plays, or anything that requires one to mainly listen or watch, is not considered play. And no matter how much fun they might be, work projects are not appropriate either. Everything we do has to be purposeless, participatory and open for free exploration on an individual as well as a group basis.

In the four years of our existence we have expanded our group to 8 members and involved ourselves in such activities as children's games--hop-scotch, clapping/circle games, hide-and-seek; an Easter egg hunt in the middle of summer; making a stuffed bear out of old sweater sleeves to bring to our gatherings (these bears have their own personalities, speech patterns and irritabilities). We have decorated cookies, made mud pies, done stand-up comedy, acted out a play written by one of the members, had a Mad Hatter's tea party, removed our socks and made them into hand puppets, blown huge bubbles and chased them around the park, and the list goes on and on...

In the first year members tended to prioritize other obligations as being more important than play group and we had quite a few absences. However, once the absentees realized how much fun they had missed, everyone made our monthly date the priority. It is a rare occasion now when someone is absent.

What we have discovered over the years is not only that adult play has the side-effect of being personally therapeutic, but that it is a revolutionary energy in and of itself. If you send a spirit of playfulness out into the world you tend to get playfulness and laughter back. What if, through more adult play, we could change the world from a place of many conflicts to a place of fun?

Bravo, play is important! I recall my cousins and I as children exploring the river area behind Mamo's(grandma)
house. Building forts and clubhouses. It was awesome fun and a time when imagination was the only mind altering experience we ever needed. Play is a life saver. Today I still play with words of poetry and self-made beer drinking board games which include games pieces comprised of small childrens toys. I tell players you must bring out your inner-child when playing this game. Its really great fun to laugh and play. Play On! Rave On!

My son and I are in an argument over what play is. We often both call to eachother "play with me" with our voices and our hearts, wanting to engage in different activities together.

I loved Lego when I was little, and when I have a moment, I still occasionally like thinking up something imaginative with the little blocks, but that's probably once every few weeks or so. He plays Lego for hours daily, says it is a good way to relieve tension. I want to commune with him playfully, but when I have a filthy kitchen, no funding after a couple months, and want to make reservations for when we travel in a few weeks, I do not enjoy sitting there and don't want to loose myself in it.

Now that he is 6 and the daily chores with him are slowing down, I want to get back to things I enjoyed before he was born--cooking savory food, growing things in the garden, perhaps going dancing once in a while. He sometimes likes finding the worms, but generally isn't interested in this stuff. Someday I hope to find a tennis partner, a soccer team, and/or a swim team again, but I hate the thought of him feeling cut out of my life. He has recently begun riding a bike, and we love going for long (5-10km) tours together--thank goodness!

I worked for years on the adolescent ward of a public psychiatric hospital, where one of my unassigned jobs was listening to the tribulations of medical students & psychiatric residents. They were all SO busy, they worked SO hard! I used to suggest they consider some work arrangement where they could have a bit more time off after their training was over. "What's the use of all that training & that high intelligence & income if you never get to play?" This was my mantra. I was, in the long run, glad that my much lower-level position allowed me to play after (& at!) work & on weekends. These residents & students hardly had any free time, and I think they had accepted that as normal from about the time they decided they wanted to go to medical school. I used to wonder how present they would be able to be for their patients, not to mention their families, after a couple of decades of 60-80-hour weeks. I hope they eventually figured it out.

I myself was reared in a family that played--we sat around the dinner table talking, laughing, considering completely improbable ideas, settling questions by consulting the atlas or the dictionary or Shakespeare or the Concordance. We didn't have fully-programmed summers & after-school programs. (Being semi-rural and of very modest income, those were opportunities the lack of which I often felt.) But, for example, when my brother & I helped my father pick up several hundred nails someone had lost from a truck on the road, those were OUR nails, too. We could pound them into anything that wouldn't suffer as a result. The crate supporting the trailer tongue looked like it had stalactites inside... And I'm the only woman I know who doesn't have to choke up on a hammer.

Hello
I am a 47 yr old man with a degree in business and a Mortgage Banker. This link was forwarded to me by a new freind who just recently earned her doctoate in recreation. That path never occured to me. I am so impressed and inspired. I come from a family of hard working smart over acheivers and most did not take any time out to truly play. My mother reflected on this and did tell me make sure you take time out to play. I feel the world needs more recreation and that mindset could solve some of the worlds problems. I have been reflecting on my past and future. I have been ruminating on ways to share my insights and also become aware of new ways to play. I am striving to be an expert on play. I try to think outside the box and pack as much fun into a day and still earn a living. Example of a good day to me. Start day with a little work. Check and return calls and emails. Then go water skiing for an hour. Few more calls and emails. Go wake boarding for an hour or so. Few more calls and emails. Surf behind the boat without a rope (a sport we thought we invented). Few more calls and emails. Go mountainbiking. Work again for a few minutes. Go to river and kayak. Maybe work some more. Have nice dinner. Go golf when most people dont go 30 minutes before sunset and quickly play say 7 holes. Another good time to golf is at 530 in morning before everybody else goes out. I pride myself in being a person with varied interests. In between
these events while waiting I may fish. In winter I want to ski every powder day even if it is for only for first two hours of the day and then go to work and then hopefully ice skate and indoor climb or snow shoe. Kite skiing is also a great new sport. I am allways looking for new ways to recreate and cross train. I am also not in tip top shape. I live on the lake now but in the past when I didnt I just looked for people with boats that needed someone to play with. I have a lot more to share. My mind set in my life has allways been to look around at what others are doing and see if anyone is having more fun than me and if so investigate, emulate and participate. I also have a long life list of things I want to do. I have crossed a lot of things off as accomplished but the list keeps growing. I am looking for a forum to share my insights and also learn new ways to enjoy life. Would really be interested in any feedback from anyone who I might of inspired or at least intrigued. Do I publish a book? Do I start website? Could I make a living? These are a few of my questions. I hope someone gets something out of this post.
Carl carlwhumphreys@yahoo.com 509-220-0476

I grew up in a family with a father who loved to play (and still does at age 80). Play was a priority in our family and it still is in my life. This is what I admire the most about my father,and what I have carried forward in my own life.

As a child in a family of nine children, we couldn't wait to get out the door in the morning during summer or after school during the school year. Our days consisted of kick the can, softball, football....Sometimes we played board games and cards but most of the time we were playing something. To this day when all of us are together, our time revoves around some type of play. we recently all met up to surprise my dad for his 80th b-day and we played a horseshoe-type game called cornhusk. To this day my favorite way to interact with people is to play something. For my 50th b-day I told my family if there was to be a party I wanted it to involve playing something.

I work as a Reading Specialist in an elementary school and primarily teach a phonics based program. I have incorporated many games into my lessons and it is not unusual for students to come in and say, "What are we going to play today Mrs. Brady?" I have found that when you do this, it makes it fun and engaging and they remember what the lesson was about.

I have a friend that I have been playing racquetball originally, and then tennis for over 20 years together once or twice a week. We witnessed our kids growing up, going onto college, and now starting their own families. We've shared many tears, hopes, dreams, and stories "at the net".

Playing has been essential to my life and my favorite saying is: You don't stop playing because you get old. you get old because you stop playing. My dad is truly testament to this and I hope I will be too. I hope my owm children will see how much "play" has added to my life and that they will find their own forms of play that will enhance their lives too.

Joanne, I loved your play story. I have a similar one in my life. Visit www.takomaplays.org and www.letsplayamerica.org to see what I am doing with the help of many volunteers in Takoma Park, Maryland to encourage people to play daily. Keep playing! Pat Rumbaugh The Play Lady

Thank you so much for sharing your fantastic photos with the world. It makes me feel happy and hopeful that there is such love and joy universally expressed through play by all species.

This interview, Ms. Tippett is a brilliant perspective on play. As a young adult I was described as "mechanical" because I was too serious. My sense of humor needed steroids to activate and I may take some things too seriously and aggravate myself more than necessary. A good balance between play, humor and serious attention is a delicate combination that enhances well-being, controls stress and opens the mind. Humor diffuses anger. The Bible says a soft answer turns away wrath

Proverbs 15:1 ¶ A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.(KJV).

I view that passage of Scripture as a play response in a difficult situation. My brother-in-law is an expert on play. He is magnetic and gets away with things because of his natural playful character. Thanks for sharing Dr. Brown!

Having been an early childhood educator for many, many years, I can attest to the importance of play for young children, indeed, all of us. When a parent of a young child complains because there is too much play, my answer is that play is child's work, that play, as I define it, is self-directed activity, that this play is important for a child's total development.
After having worked with 2s, 3s, 4s for many years, I am now working with/nurturing children under 1. I am amazed and in awe of their play, as they begin to investigate/understand/make sense of this world, as they acquire needed skills, as they relate to others. It is a joy for me to watch, to observe, and to interfere only when absolutely necessary..

Krista you & Dr. Stuart Brown made my day today. Earlier in the day I enjoyed our Pastor's sermon, "The Truth Will Set You Free." It was enlightening and held my attention, but your interview with Stuart made me want to stop half way and take my dogs for a playful walk. I couldn't wait to get back and hear the rest. I have been fortunate in my life to have the opportunity to get to know Stuart because, of our shared professional interest in play. In 2007 I contacted him, because i was researching play for my children's book, "Let's Play at the Playground, which Stuart ended up writing a blurb for that appears on the back cover of the book. In 2009 I founded www.takomaplays.org. We have just put on our 50th fun FREE play event in Takoma Park, MD. We are a group of people who organizing unorganized play events. On the website you can see the two TEDxTalks I just gave on play. You can also see I was asked to be the Grand Marshall of Takoma Park's July 4 Parade. We will be playing & walking in the parade. I am currently forming the non-profit www.letsplayamerica.org. A friend shared this interview with me today. I would love to talk with you more about this subject. LPA's mission is to encourage people of all ages to play by helping them create playful events in their OWN communities. I am so glad you enjoy playing alone and with your children. Play is such a broad term, I tell people it is how you see things between your ears. If you say, "oh I have to go to the gym to workout" or "Wow, I get to go to the gym and move my body through playful exercise." Then you are giving yourself play and that is something we all should do everyday. I wish you the best. Go play! Pat Rumbaugh, The Play Lady

I cannot tell you how vindicated I feel after listening to this show with Stuart Brown. The three things he stressed: play, bears and Joseph Campbell, are all a part of my life. My play as an adult is in the form of collecting; I currently collect older video games and older technology - which I love to play with and display. When I was a child, toys were super important to me because I was an only child and toys became much more than playthings to me. I never grew out of play as an adult; although it had to be put on the back burner for a while, it has been given the time it deserves (and that I deserve!) since the 1980s.

I love bears; I have studied bears and my favorite is the North American Black Bear. I know that bears love to play and they are one of the animals that are greatest at it. So glad to hear this from someone else.

I have been a follower of Joseph Campbell for the last 30 years; but it is only since 1999 that I figured out how to incorporate what he taught into my own life in a personal way. One of the great things Campbell taught me, in addition to "Follow Your Bliss" is that it is much more important to be spiritual than religious. Many people think they are the same thing, but they are not. If it were not for Mr. Campbell, I would not have my music discographies online (since 1999). So I owe him a great deal in many respects.

Thank you to Dr. Brown for mentioning these three important things that make up my life and for giving such an inspiring and vindicating talk!!!

Dear Krista,
Thank you for your interview with Stuart Brown. I was very impressed with his description of the benefits of play, as well as the effect a lack of play had on the Texas mass murderer.
Some questions occur to me, which I hope might be addressed in future interviews:
Do Fundamentalists around the world (whether Islamic, Christian, Jewish, or any other faith) allow their children to play? Do the adults engage in play, whether soccer matches, chess matches, musical contests, etc.?
Is play part of the rehabilitation of former militants?
I wonder about groups who always seem to be killing one another, such as Sunni and Shia Muslims, or (in some parts of the world) Hindus and Buddhists. Do they ever play together?
Somewhere I heard about a summer camp which brings together Palestinian and Israeli children; are they encouraged not just to play together, but also to mix teams, so that Palestinians and Israelis play together against other teams of mixed Palestinians and Israelis? I would think that would help to break down the absolute identity of “us” vs. “them” based on religious or ethnic grounds, lay the foundation for a broader common identity as humans, and promote cooperation and mutual understanding based on accepted rules of “fair play.”
On a lighter note, your description of your son “saving the world” with imaginary companions sounds exactly like my own childhood. It also reminds me of this animated parody of the famous car chase scene from the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt:

Thanks, and keep up the good work!

I silently love your show but today is a different day. I will enjoy talking about why Play for everyone is important. Love this... keep up the good work.
Love
Jessica Kim

enjoy this

What an interesting discussion. I never would have connected rough and tumble play in children to creating empathy, trust, and boundaries. I would have thought the exact opposite, that rough play encourages violence. There were great examples given, about how when a child realizes that they may hit someone or something too hard, they will hold back due to them understanding that it may hurt the other individual. This shows empathy from child to child. I was very surprised to hear that violent homicidal murderers such as Charles Whittman never really expressed or engaged in free play. I am one of those nervous mothers who are afraid of her children being hurt, especially my ten year old son. After hearing this discussion, and thinking back to how my son plays in his free time with his friends or his sister, I can really begin to make sense of what Dr. Stuart Brown is discussing. What a great topic!

I am a 21 year old who recently graduated college. While at college, the combination of the steep price tag and the elite nature of the institution led to some feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. To compensate, I put my head down and worked like the devil at the hardest major I could find, math.

My schoolwork completely took over my life during my sophomore year, and during that year I noticed the exact symptoms that Dr. Brown describes: a rigid response to complex stimuli, fear of novelty, and an unfamiliarity with irony. I had always considered myself a bit of a prankster in grade school (for example, I read Johanna Hurwitz's book Class Clown three or four times in elementary school), but my sense of humor totally evaporated while I was completely caught up in my work. It was the strangest thing!

My life is now much more balanced, but it took a while for my sense of the absurd – the "bearable" lightness of being if you will – to return. How did it come back? Stand up comedy . Revisiting acts like Eddie Izzard, Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, and George Carlin returned me to the sometimes paradoxical, always wonderful ways in which our life unfolds.

Thanks to this episode, I now have a vocabulary to talk about what I felt and experienced. Thanks Krista, for such a great show.

I absolutely loved this episode! I work for and am a big advocate for Montessori education and this really struck me! I have passed the episode to the families in our school's blog! Thank you!

Thanks to Dr. Stuart Brown for highlighting the importance of play. Too often it is viewed a child's work, rather than fundamentally necessary for all-ages. Whether you're 5 or 50, those pleasurable yet purposeless activities are vital for all humans (and animals). Have a little fun and reconnect with your play personality!