Monday, September 28, 2015

A playful birthday month

I like birthdays. I like them so much I think a month-long celebration is more appropriate than a one-day commemoration. Birthdays deserve a month of joyful activities, personal pleasures and whimsical indulgences.

In a few days, it will be my birthday month, which means I’ve been giving a bit of thought lately to how I want to spend the next 31 days. I know I want them to be peaceful days, as free of worry and frustration as possible. To that end, I plan to go rowing frequently. I’m never calmer than when I’m in my old aluminum skiff, skimming across the flat surface of still water.

On days when I’m unable to be on the lake, I’ll try to be out walking, taking long, slow meanders through wooded paths. Next to rowing, a slow stroll through a dark forest fills me with peace and solace. I recently read a Zen meditation quote that I found especially relevant, “You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day…unless you’re busy, then you should sit for an hour.” An hour sounds about right to me, busy or not.

When I’m not rowing, walking in the woods or sitting quietly observing nature, I’d love to spend time during my birthday month reading, baking and taking pictures. A bit of gardening would be nice, too. Ideally, a birthday month should be filled with as many much-loved activities as possible. Losing myself in a good story, taking a bite of pumpkin pie fresh from the oven or feeling a satisfying glow when I’ve cleaned up a flowerbed are all high on my things-that-make-me-happy list.

Happiness can also be found spending time with others, especially with those people most important in your life. In addition to together time with my husband Ralph, which is always a pleasure, I’m looking forward to visits from each of our children and grandkids during October. For a couple weeks, we’ll have a full house, and as much fun as that can be, I know from experience I’ll be needing breaks. Without doubt, my rowing muscles and walking shoes will get a good workout during those weeks.

Celebrating birthdays with family

On the topic of fun, I believe a birthday month should include at least one frivolous, unnecessary pleasure. My frolicsome leap into indulgency revolves around three wheels and a reclining seat. I’m thinking about getting a one-speed, recumbent Fun Cycle, a bike I have coveted since I first rode one 27 years ago. A birthday is a fine time to revisit long-lasting pleasures from the past, so I’m researching new and used Fun Cycles for sale. At some point during my birthday month, I hope to be zipping down the hard-packed sand on New Smyrna Beach at low tide on my new-to-me recumbent play-mobile.

I got one!  Me on my new-to-me Fun Cycle

Playing is important, and it’s not just for kids. According to Stuart Brown, author, psychiatrist and founder of the non-profit National Institute for Play, “Play is something done for its own sake. It's voluntary, it's pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

For the next 31 days, no matter what else I do, I’ll be celebrating my birthday by prioritizing play.

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