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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.

Selected Readings

Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

Our online editor retraces the long tail of this program and the unexpected path leading up to the initial broadcast.

When we value the mindfulness and intellectual rigor in all kinds of work — including manual forms of labor — what do we learn about ourselves? A reflection on appreciating labor in its many forms.

The 2010 World Cup final expects to draw 700 million viewers in a few hours. And with all the fanfare and elaborate ceremonies preceding this championship game, soccer at its core is a game of universal appeal and absolute simplicity. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the continent of Africa itself.

Travel to the woods of Maine and encounter Kate Braestrup's landscape from a falconer's perspective. Audio producer Samantha Broun and photographer Amanda Kowalski follow the story of a red-tailed hawk on the hunt. It's a hidden world.

Yosemite meets Saarschleife in this pairing of German wilderness and poignant words from John Muir.

Adele Diamond studies how social dramatic play can build "executive function" (EF) skills in children's brains. EF is a container term for capacities like inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility.

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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'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).

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: 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: that teaches victims of bullying and teasing how to laugh off teasing and instead of getting upset learn the lessons.

Best Wishes,
Miriam Kalman

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.
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.
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

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:

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:

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

In playfulness,


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

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 ( 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)

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 and film info at 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 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.

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 509-220-0476


Voices on the Radio

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.

Production Credits

Host/Executive Producer: Krista Tippett

Executive Editor: Trent Gilliss

Senior Producer: Lily Percy

Technical Director: Chris Heagle

Associate Producer: Mariah Helgeson

Production Intern: Julie Rawe