“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching. Love like you’ll never be hurt. Sing like there’s nobody listening. And live like it’s heaven on earth.” – William Purkey
We have forgotten to play. To be kids. To do things we love – just because.
Sitting in bed scrolling through my Instagram feed, I wonder to myself why I’m not reading a book instead. I set a deadline and start a conversation – an hour goes by. I realize it’s past my bedtime – and plug in my phone and start the noise machine. Tomorrow – tomorrow I’ll meditate and get some reading in. Until the next morning comes and I’m off and running again only to find myself in bed the next night mindless scrolling. Why is that?! Why do I need the brain drain?
When I was a kid, I loved to listen to music, read books, write in my journal about the boy I met, flip through magazines to find new styles, learn something new, draw sketches of what my house would look like someday, write poetry, play my piano, sing out loud, dance like a maniac, laugh out loud, sit next to a stream and just listen. The simple things – quiet things – and at some point, I grew up.
I get wrapped up in being adult. Going hard at work all day, thinking about work when I’m not at work, making excuses for not having creative time, not painting the blank canvas on my wall, not taking time to just breathe or meditate, skipping my writing time (which is my favorite time!), pretending my workouts are "my time", and getting caught up in the world outside of my own online. Yes, I do like to play – but not like I used to. I don’t make time for it.
That all changed recently. I went to entrepreneur sleepaway camp (Camp Maverick) in the Berkshire Mountains and when I got home, a friend asked what I got out of it.
"Dance every chance you get, leave your heart open, and say yes to everything that feels good.”
He said it reminded him of a quote. My response: “You’re right – people quote it, but few actually dance, love, sing, or live it.”
Last summer, I went to the same camp and walked away feeling angsty. It was a fun camp, but I had been in hardcore introvert mode – angry at the world because nothing was working and I felt very unsafe in a lot of different aspects of my life. I showed up to drop off my phone and be silent for the 4 days – mulling over breaking off a relationship that was going nowhere and ending a business I’d had for almost 8 years. It was a tumultuous time, to say the least. The other campers thought I was nice, but no one saw me for who I really am. I was adult-ing to the core – and that left zero play in my spirit.
A year later, I had quit my business and my relationship – and walked into camp with a spark. I was ready to set the world on fire and made a few distinct decisions before getting in the car to head up there.
I decided to:
play full out
say yes to everything that felt good
keep my heart open to other incredible humans
allow myself to make deep soul connections
From the moment I walked into camp, I felt the difference. I was smiling. I got hug-attacked by a camper from the year prior. I wore my “I miss you so much” shirt and hugged the heck out of old friends. I was a social butterfly. I was happy. And it showed up. Everyone at last year’s camp had watched my transformation on Facebook over the last year and they asked what the catalyst was for the change. It was a decision to show up – for myself and everyone else in my life.
On the first day of camp, I met a guy who wore my second tutu the next morning for the Wake & Shake. Because who doesn’t love 45min of yoga followed by 2 hours of dancing your face off? And why don’t we, guys and gals alike, wear tutus in real life?
By the end of the 4 days, I was on fire. I ended up being the captain of the winning team for the Color War – chasing teammates all over the course, covered in paint and bright colored powder, hugging everyone around me and screaming loveliness at anyone who would listen. I sang one of my favorite songs (Glitter in the Air) dressed still in paint and THREE tutus (which is officially now called a six-six) and killed it – I honestly have never sang so hard from my heart before. I could feel my heart soaring.
The whole experience left me with an aching awakening. I had joined a tribe of humans that allowed AND encouraged me to be fully myself – a full self I never felt safe to share. To dance, to dream, to partner, to love, to smooch, to snuggle, to be filled up with – and BOY, did it feel good. It’s filled with humans who get me. Humans who aren’t like me but are JUST like me. Humans who play hard, work hard, and live big lives – and who want others to know what it’s like to be wild & free. They’re now my family. (Love to Yanik & Sophia for giving life to Maverick1000 and inviting me in!)
As much as it was great being with this tribe, I walked away realizing it had more to do with how all of us show up every day. Camp can go with us – into our every day. We don’t have to “adult” so hard anymore. We can play anytime we want. And although many people think this is how I’ve always lived my life, they’re going to see a huge shift in how outgoing and open I am now.
Heart open – no longer afraid to have my heart crushed.
Connected – ready to explore deep soul connections.
Saying yes – to anything that feels good and no to anything that feels like crap.
Playing full out – no more canceling or not showing up unless it’s only to maintain my high energy levels.
By the time I got back to DC, I was on fire for my life – on fire in my heart space – on fire in my new friendships – on fire in my soul – on fire in my business – and ready for what was next. Before I left, I had planned to hire a street artist to paint a wall of my office but while I was away, I remembered how much I love to paint and decided to do it myself. I decided to stop wearing clothes that didn’t make me happy. I found myself wondering how I could start singing during my talks (without it being weird) – because it made my heart sing. I looked at the white canvas on my living room wall that has a painting sketched on it and decided it was time to finish it. I even went to IKEA and danced around to whatever music made me want to dance. And smiled at random strangers – I usually squeeze my lips together, but now I’m open-mouth smiling. I hung out with my friends’ kids and got on the floor to play. Heart open, deep soul connections accepted, playing FULL OUT.
This past weekend, I went to Colorado for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival with friends. Three days of bands playing to a huge field of humans. We danced our faces off even when everyone else was standing around. We waved our hands in the air like we just didn’t care. We laughed, we smiled, we sang, we hiked, we made new friends, we chatted with strangers, and we fully lived. We played for 3 solid days. And walked away sore and happy. I’m taking camp into everyday life.
So, now that we’re back to work – “the grind” – what can we do to keep playing?! Or what can you do to START playing?
I’ve come up with some ideas so we can play together. Pick one and do it today – then do another tomorrow – and then another the day after that. These are just ideas, not requirements or rules. Because kids don’t get creative when they have rules. Let’s play!
Wear an outfit that makes you smile.
When you see a stranger and love something they’re wearing, give them a compliment out loud.
Instead of walking down the block, skip.
Say yes to everything that feels good.
Say no to everything that feels bad.
Leave your phone home when you walk the dog and give every person who walks by you a big smile.
Dance in a retail store to music that moves you.
Do a project you don’t have time for but you used to LOVE doing. (paint a picture, play piano, write a poem, buy those fun baskets and reorganize that closet, etc)
Go for a long drive with no destination in mind and find a new spot to grab coffee, dinner, or a drink.
Walk the long way to work.
Kiss your significant other at least 20 times in one day.
Hug people instead of shaking their hand.
Put on a tutu. (I SWEAR it will brighten your day.)
Be bold and say “I want to be your friend” to someone you really want to be friends with.
Tell a friend you love them.
Send a package of goodies to a loved one with lots of bright colors inside.
Paint your toenails a bright color.
Send your mom a massage gift certificate for no reason.
Smile with your whole face.
Listen to every word of a song with your eyes closed.
Ask your friends to play.
Skip happy hour & go to the park for a picnic.
Read a book on the toilet instead of your Facebook feed.
Put on headphones and lipsync in your public with full face expressions.
Dance around your house to loud music in your undies.
Take a real bath.
Wash every little part of yourself.
Put on music from your teenage years and rock out. (Oh, man, can they bring back Lilith Fair?)
Make silly faces at the camera instead of posing.
Wear cute pajamas to bed.
Wake up on Saturday morning and watch vintage cartoons. (Can you find them online?)
Handwrite a love note and mail it.
Text a friend a bunch of emojis.
Schedule a dance break at the office and get your colleagues involved.
Use bright colored pens instead of black or blue.
Buy a coloring book and really color – instead of trying to be mindful.
Take a nap.
Say what you really mean. (I know, right?!)
Tell someone they’re your bestie. And mean it.
Encourage someone else to play with you.
Come up with a creative date instead of “meeting for drinks” – like music in the park, a walk by the lake/river, or a painting class.
Buy a set of legos and use them on your next lunch break.
Break your routine and try out a different kind of exercise class.
Sign up for an activity you’ve never done before.
Plan a really romantic (but fun!) evening with your significant other.
Do your hair or makeup differently. (For bald guys, try a new style of hat.)
Get your friends together and go out for a night of dancing.
Sit on a park bench with a notepad and write what comes to mind.
Join a kickball team, bocce team or hash (the drinking club with a running problem).
Smile. For no reason.
Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile.
Listen. JUST LISTEN to someone share. Ask them lots of questions but don’t butt in.
Put your phone & headphones away on your commute.
Strike up a conversation with a stranger.
Play – whatever that means to you.
Put on a tutu. (Did I already say that?!)
Let’s do this together. We can put our phones down, have a real conversation with another human being, truly listen to what is going on around us, and find out what we really like to do. Decide it’s going to be a beautiful day and then manifest that by showing up and playing. None of us REALLY wanted to grow up anyway.