“People want to be creatively satisfied, and having fun is such an important part of that.” ~John Lasseter
I stopped having fun when my mother was diagnosed with dementia.
I didn’t have time for fun because I had to spend every spare moment thinking about Mom, wondering how I could help her, talking to my dad, wondering how I could help him, and worrying about the future, including fretting over whether I, too, was losing my mind.
Then one day, I asked my mother what it was like, living in such confusion.
“I can’t worry over it too much,” she told me. “When I lose a thought or a word, I try to laugh and let it go.”
I realized that’s what I needed to do: acknowledge that Mom had dementia, appreciate her, and then laugh and let go.
To help myself with the surrender and laughter aspects, I made a list of quick ways to inspire my own sense of creativity and playfulness. I’m still using this list.
1. Give yourself a picture.
Create a visual image for your week. This is a great thing to do on Sunday night or Monday morning. Think of how you want the week to feel and look and how you want to be.
Do you want to live the week with the abandon of a boy stepping off the high dive? Do you want to roller skate through the week, listening to great music? Do you want to drive around with a “Get out of Jail” free card so you can have a little extra wildness and still not be in trouble?
Draw a picture or cut out a photo from a magazine. Working with an image helps you create your ideal week.
2. Get literal with down time.
Each time you come into your home, make a point of putting something down, such as a purse, a sack of groceries, or a briefcase. Say to yourself, “When I put down this sack of groceries, I put down all the things that keep me from enjoying being here in my home.”
Saying this simple line helps you release grouchiness (well, you did have a very hard day), tiredness, or other stuff that’s bugging you.
3. Give someone a delightful surprise.
Think of someone you know who could use a little boost. Maybe it’s your child, your spouse, your mom, or a co-worker. Think of an easy and unexpected way you can cheer them on.
Maybe your child needs a dollar under his pillow, regardless of the status of his teeth. Maybe your spouse needs a love note tucked into her briefcase. Maybe a co-worker needs a bagel waiting on his desk.
4. Make instant art.
Create a three-minute collage. Think of something you’d like to do or someplace you’d like to visit. Then get an old catalog or magazine, tear out appropriate pictures or words, and tape them on paper to make a mini collage.
Stick this collage someplace where you will see it often. Or put it in a self-addressed stamped envelope and ask a friend to mail it to you within the next two months. Mini-collages also make lovely birthday cards for friends.
5. Leave loose change for others to find.
Walk down the street and every block or two, drop a dime, a nickel, or a quarter on the sidewalk. Imagine how people will smile and feel lucky when they discover these small treasures.
6. Trigger your reality.
Think of what you want more of in your life, such as a sense of surrender, more time for creative exploration, or more serenity. Then create visual cues that remind you of your quest.
A small white flag in tucked into the corner of your desk signals you don’t have to fight so often. For a creative jolt, make a cardboard letter B, attach it on a spring to your wall, reminding you to “B off the wall.” A piece from an old puzzle taped to a map of your state reminds you to live in a “state” of peace.
7. Swing your feet.
Sit somewhere high, stare into space, and swing your feet. You’ll get a delightful sense of freedom and irresponsibility. It’s a relief, not always having your feet on the ground.
8. Bat a balloon.
Blow up a brightly colored balloon and bat it around. This is a great way to lighten up the energy. Do this alone in your office for a few minutes during that late afternoon draggy period. Or invite in a simpatico co-worker and see how long you can keep the balloon up in the air.
9. Coax out your creativity.
Make a list of ten fun and creative things you really want to do. Plan to do at least one of them.
Writing this article was on my “fun and creative” list. What’s on yours?