mental health · play · work

If You Can’t Find Your Inspiration to Play, Stop.

I haven’t written in awhile.

My apologies.

Quite frankly, I had lost my play drive.

I had to take two weeks off of work – including some time totally unplugged from civilization – to even see glimmers of it returning.

Before I wanted to explore, to create, to ponder.

To take pictures. To go hiking. To sew. To sculpt. To craft.

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I had gotten so bogged down with reacting to life and trying to keep up with it all, I couldn’t find the room to play, let alone sleep enough, eat as healthy as I’d like, exercise, or even spend time with my husband and kids.

That’s not a healthy place to be, and I don’t wish it on anyone.

Sometimes we have to buckle down and get the work done. No doubt. Sometimes pushing ourselves past our limits is needed, and can be exciting and helps us grow. And yes we must make sacrifices, we simply cannot do it all. Some professions (performers, fire fighters, doctors, airline employees, consultants, CEO’s, etc.) require travel and/or late nights that take us away from our friends and families, but it is worth the short-term sacrifice.

But too much of that sacrifice is physically and mentally draining, period. It literally wears us down – our brains stop working as well and we feel physically exhausted all the time (because we are!) – until we are so depleted it takes a long time to get back to where we can actually function as members of our respective tribes, whether that is work, home, or friends and other social obligations. In the worst case scenarios it can kill us.

We can all find great pleasure in devoting ourselves to one main “thing” and for some of us that is our professional work or as caregivers to our children. But even those who are dedicated to their one passion need to take breaks. Sometimes we get so bogged down in keeping up we don’t even realize just how much of a toll it has taken on us. Until we break.

Kelley_Beth_2

Thankfully I did not reach the breaking point, but I did reach the point of exhaustion. You know those pictures of runners that have collapsed after a particularly grueling marathon? That was me. I was able to walk myself off the finish line, but as soon as I did I just sat down and it took a long time before I was ready to stand up, and even longer before I even wanted to think about running again (both metaphorically and literally).

It almost feels melodramatic the way I’m describing it, but just like so many other things related to the mind and body, it is an invisible but real problem we need to deal with. Unfortunately overwork and exhaustion are all too common a phenomenon in our modern world, almost a badge of honor, that is instead contributing to the leading causes of death – heart disease, obesity, unhealthy coping mechanisms, others  – and it needs to be taken seriously. You need to know the signs in yourself before you get so far down the path of exhaustion and overwork – whether you’re a SAHM or an unattached traveling salesman – that it takes much longer to get back.

But it doesn’t have to take long. After my relatively short break – 2 weeks – I am slowly getting back into my play training regimen. I am taking pictures. I am walking/hiking. I am sewing. I am crafting. I am looking for play opportunities.

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And I am trying to fit play and adventure in wherever I can. I have the benefit of having my kids to help me.

On my first day back to work, I took a half hour out of my morning to watch the eclipse. That wasn’t a lot of time out of my day, and I know some neighbors who drove the four hours south to get a better view, but it was enough. (And, side note: for a once in a lifetime experience I didn’t see as many of my coworkers out on the sidewalk with me as I would have expected.)

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Bottom line, including mostly for myself: Please take time to play. Everyone will thank you. Especially yourself.

play

The child as an indicator species for cities: reflections on Philadelphia

An interesting version of “the canary in the coal mine”, and I’m using that analogy intentionally as an indication of the severity and seriousness of the topic.

Rethinking Childhood

This post starts by sharing an op-ed piece of mine published in the Philadelphia Enquirer last week to coincide with my trip to the city. It is followed by a postscript with reflections on the visit. I’ve also inserted images of some of the parks I saw.

Spruce Street Harbor Park Spruce Street Harbor Park

Imagine you take a time machine trip to 2037. You step out and start to explore your city. What sights and sounds would convince you that the Philly of the future was thriving?

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play

Designing Streets for Play – Research and Observation – Playing Out

Creating friendly streets is vital for proper child development, physical health and well-being for all, and safer communities

Rethinking Childhood

cover of Helen Forman literature review on residential street design published by Playing OutThis is a quick share of a very useful report pulling together key research and other material on designing streets for play. The report was written for the campaigning group Playing Out by Helen Forman, an architect in the housing field and volunteer activator for the group.

I have long argued that making residential streets more child-friendly is crucial to expanding their everyday freedoms. This literature review is an essential resource for anyone who shares this view. Just click here to download a copy.

Helen’s blog post on the report is below.

There’s a house on a corner near where I live in suburban Leeds that makes me happy nearly every time I pass it. Not because it’s anything special architecturally, but because there are almost always children playing in the street outside. Further into town there’s a Victorian terrace, where cycling past once I smiled as I …

Source: Designing…

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behavior · creativity · culture · environment · happiness · play

Karyn Lu: People & Places of Play – Creative Mornings Talk

This is an older talk, from 2013, but I loved seeing Karyn’s talk for Creative Mornings that discussed the value of adult play, providing some examples and play/art projects I hadn’t seen before, and especially in the Q&A section providing tips on how to become a play advocate in your 9-5 corporate job.

Check it out here:

Thank you to Creative Mornings for capturing this talk and sharing it publicly for everyone.

behavior · community · creativity · environment · happiness · health · play · Social

The 30-Day Tree Climbing Challenge is on!

I don’t normally promote my husband Rafe Kelley’s work with Evolve Move Play all that much, but this challenge is too good to pass up.

Starting on Arbor Day (but you can really start any time), Rafe is inviting people to climb a tree for 30 days, and tag their friends to climb three trees or donate to the Arbor Day Foundation, or plant a tree! Use the hashtag #treeclimb30 to tag your posts.

Rafe is doing this for many reasons, including…

  1. Promote outdoor physical play and movement,
  2. Foster a love of trees and the outdoors,
  3. Get people playing in their local communities,
  4. Remind people that it’s okay to climb trees, and
  5. To have fun!

This is an international push, bringing in participants from Europe as well, including certified Evolve Move Play (EMP) coach Ben Medder, based just outside of London (UK).

He is also trying to motivate participating with prizes, so stay tuned to his channels for more details:

So get out there, climb a tree (or plant a tree), tag a friend, and get moving!

play

A rare glimpse into a messy oasis of adventure play

Great couple of showcases about playing outside and letting kids explore with various materials, their bodies, and just letting them get messy. 🙂

Rethinking Childhood

Adventure play is enjoying a moment. And at the centre of this is The Land, an adventure playground in Wrexham, North Wales. So it is great to see a 14-minute documentary feature on The Land – from US filmmaker Erin Davis – being made freely available online. Click on the image below to watch it.

The Land video screengrab

It was Hanna Rosin’s 2014 Atlantic magazine cover story ‘The Overprotected Kid’ that thrust The Land into the public eye. It also features prominently in the new book Messy by Tim Harford, writer and self-styled ‘undercover economist’ (and front man for one of my favourite BBC Radio 4 shows, More or Less). Harford’s take is revealing:

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play

March Mammal Madness 2017: School Science Classes Watch Their Brackets | NPR

This. Is. Awesome! Students are tapping into the playful aspects of science and learning.

This is March Mammal Madness. It’s a competition that has been playing out online and in hundreds of classrooms over the past month. Real animals wage fictional battles, while students use science — a lot of it — to try to predict the winner.March Mammal Madness was created five years ago by Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University, though now, she says, the competition depends on a whole team of volunteer scientists and conservationists: biologists, animal behaviorists, paleoanthropologists, marine biologists.Hinde’s team meets every year for a Selection Sunday of its own. Team members pick the animals that will compete and even decide who will win, though they keep it a secret. That’s because a whole lot of research has to be done.Each scientist is assigned a specific battle, then studies up and writes a battle story based on facts.

“Then the battles are live-tweeted as a dynamic, play-by-play story, much like someone would watch a basketball game,” Hinde says.

Those tweets link to scientific articles, videos, photos, fossil records — whatever the team can use to drop knowledge into the story. That’s why so many teachers, including Michelle Harris, have begun using the brackets in class.

Playing with ideas is the whole point of learning! This is absolutely something I’ve seen PhD’s do sitting around having a pint together, chatting about animal life and death scenarios. It pulls on so many skills – critical thinking, learning and retaining knowledge about science, creativity, telling a story, collaboration, and more, all under the guise of play!

My money is on the slow loris. 😉

Source: March Mammal Madness 2017: School Science Classes Watch Their Brackets : NPR Ed : NPR

play

Eight new installations now on display in South Lake Union

Great opportunity to engage with local artists for free in an accessible way.

Storefronts

Shunpike proudly presents eight new installations in South Lake Union as part of its acclaimed Storefronts program, on display until July 2017. Examining the exchanges between teachers and pupils, the collaboration between artist and nature, the origin of dragons, the installations span from an accumulation of marks, of ribbon miles, and unifying markers.



ARTIST: Amanda Manitach

WORK: Frances Farmer Defends Herself

LOCATION: Harrison Storefronts

Manitach_Harrison Storefront East_FrancesIn Manitach’s large-scale wallpaper drawings, text melts into vibrating, hallucinatory design sourced from a 1885 French wallpaper sample. The pieces harken to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” In creating them, she invokes a similar physicality to the story’s protagonist, generating drawings up to 30 feet long made with a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil. The pieces are smudged, worn and covered with fingerprints where the artist’s body has been. “Frances Farmer Defends Herself” (graphite on paper, 52 x 360 inches) contains a quote by Seattle-born film…

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play

Announcing a new project to build the case for more child-friendly cities

This is a great research project, I look forward to following the research and the results.

Rethinking Childhood

What does it mean for a city to take child-friendliness seriously? What makes decision makers put real momentum and energy behind the vision of making the urban environment work better for children and young people? What does it take to move beyond fine words, small pilot projects and one-off participation events?

I am very pleased and honoured to announce that, thanks to a travelling fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, I will be visiting a half-a-dozen cities in Northern Europe and Canada to get under the skin of this topic. One key goal is to explore the relevance of child-friendly urban planning to urban policy in the UK.

The fellowship will take in four cities – Freiburg, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Vancouver – that have led the way in putting into practice the maxim of Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa, that the child is an indicator species for cities. With these cities…

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play

Toybombing: Coffeeshop planter

Started my morning early at my favorite coffee shop. Left a buddy. #toybombing #seattle #dinosaur

Source: Beth Kelley on Instagram: “Started my morning early at my favorite coffee shop. Left a buddy. #toybombing #seattle #dinosaur #toybomb”