I noticed it not too long ago on a hike with my younger daughter – she skipped ahead on the dirt trail and then spread her arms like a bird and “flew” on the downhill section, as open and free as the meadow around us. It had absolutely nothing to do with exercise – she was experimenting with and experiencing the world. She was just playing.
At some point in my life, I started exercising. There were definitely some “shoulds” associated with that and some desired endpoints. But along the way, I somehow stopped playing. And I didn’t even recognize how much I missed it.
A few months ago I went to Sun Valley with my girls and some other friends. One of our afternoons was spent at an outdoor community ice rink. There were hockey sticks, helmets and skates free for the borrowing. And so I borrowed.
And then, I lost all track of time.
I had never skated with a stick (I hadn’t actually skated much at all) but it did make me brave and helped me keep my balance. The glorious sunshine made me braver yet and the sheer joy of gliding did the rest. One of my girlfriends was from the Midwest and had played hockey as a kid; she got me started trying to pass and shoot. At some point, one of my daughters called me off the ice – apparently everyone was leaving and I needed to catch up.
That afternoon was a game changer for me. It felt so good to play!! I wasn’t thinking of calories or miles or pounds. It was all about playing hockey.
I came home from that weekend and signed up for a hockey clinic that started at 9:15PM every Tuesday. Then I signed up for the next one. And last night, I met my first hockey team. As I sat with them over cocktails discussing our upcoming season, I was so proud to be a member of our unusual group. We were 5 strong women of varying backgrounds and ages. We didn’t know one another. And we were committing to a summer of Thursdays filled with play.
Turns out that I was the one in my family who needed a play date.
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