I finally got caught up on a couple of reviews. I posted my thoughts on I Am Malala yesterday.  My review of Angela Correll’s Grounded will post late Tuesday morning.  I just finished Nora Roberts’ The Dark Witch and have just started A People’s History of the United States 1492 to the Present so lots of reading going on.

I have friends doing some fun things this week. Because of when I changed jobs this year, I won’t be taking off a lot of time for the Holidays.  I enjoy Thanksgiving. I’m beginning to plan for Christmas – but I won’t officially begin to celebrate until after Thanksgiving.

And that leads me to what I am thinking about today. I was reminded this week of the fun of play.  When my mother was pregnant with me, she painted some wooden ornaments for our Christmas tree.  These are the ornaments of my childhood, treasured memories. When I moved out, mom sent them with me to use on my own tree. Several years ago, doing some post-Thanksgiving browsing, I found some similar ornaments and bought them. I intended to paint them and add them to the collection on my tree.  Like many ideas, this started enthusiastically and I painted several of the ornaments but then put them away where they sat in a box for more years than I can really remember.

Last week, I decided I wanted to paint these ornaments and use them this year. Of course, I had to buy new paints.  The original paints had long since dried or were well past their prime in other ways.  I sat down and started painting and quickly found myself lost in it, really enjoying it.  I’m not artistic and coloring in the lines was always a challenge to me as a child because I didn’t want to be careful enough to make coloring neat. Painting, until last week, had been that way, too. Now, though, I enjoyed the smaller, precise strokes. I found myself in the zone, enjoying painting for painting’s sake, and found myself with a quiet mind. photo (24)

Now, here’s the part about the fun of play. Any time I’ve had a few spare minutes this week, I’ve sat down to paint some more.  Some of the ornaments are cuter than others, more my style.  I was painting them all because they were there, but I wasn’t really enjoying painting some of them, or looking forward to putting them on my tree.  That’s when some voice inside me said , “Don’t paint the ones you don’t really like.” Hello, light bulb and what should have been obvious.  Then I thought about the cutouts from the boxes, providing guidance on colors for the ornaments. That subversive little voice inside my head said, “You know those are just suggestions, right? You can paint these any color you like.” Again, Duh!

But so much of life is orderly- follow the traffic laws, pay bills on time, follow processes at work- that I had forgotten that in play, you get to follow the rules. Or not. You can make up new rules, or decide there are no rules.  It is so liberating to embrace play even in this small way.  So I have put aside the ornaments I don’t really love. I’m using purple where pink is suggested, or glitter paint on some pieces, or deciding that the scarf doesn’t need to be red and green but blue and yellow, or any other number of things.

I’m having fun, I’m seeing hints of whimsy. I’m following my gut.