This week, my daughter, Lucy, finger-painted chocolate pudding all over the kitchen cabinets. While I was cleaning that up, she snuck into the bathroom with a green marker and decorated her legs with giant green hearts. Thankfully, I’m not much for rage these days.
All I kept thinking was how fun it must be to have the idea to finger-paint chocolate pudding and then actually do it. When I caught her, she was busily dunking her fingers in the pudding bowl and then making pudding hearts and delicate pudding swirls. She was enthralled with it, lost in her own artistic intensity. Once my presence broke her reverie, she looked up, wide-eyed, and immediately ran to get a paper towel. The girl knows mommy is a neat freak.
Then, after a suspiciously-quiet 5 minutes, she bounded back into the kitchen to present her legs tattooed with cascading green hearts. And again, instead of being irritated, I felt inspired by her fun, creative spirit. (The swipes of green marker on the bathroom rug were not quite as inspirational).
Lucy’s spontaneity reminded me of how important FUN is. A few years ago, my New Year’s resolution was to have more fun. Many of you know I have a large stick up my (you know what). I am a lady who likes to make a plan, then methodically work the plan, and then check and re-check my work to make sure the plan was executed perfectly. Sounds fun, right?
It should come as no surprise that my New Year’s resolution crashed and burned.
Now, I’m back in that space where I want to create more fun in my life. I want to laugh more, be more spontaneous, try new things, and take life less seriously. I’m just not sure how…
With true methodical precision, I did what anyone would do in this situation. I googled, “How To Have More Fun.” After ten grueling minutes of research, I decided to spend the next two weeks dedicating myself to fun. It would be Fun-O-Rama, a veritable Fun Circus (without the animal abuse). Here’s what I learned in my two week jaunt down the Fun Path:
(Ideally, in the next few lines, I would describe my successful efforts at having more fun. I would tell you I discovered my inner child, laughed until my insides hurt, and learned some new dance moves. After entertaining you with a few witty stories from my fun escapades, I would conclude by telling you, “I’m Fun Now.” And I’d check it off my list.)
Well, this is what really happened. I discovered that trying to have fun is NOT FUN. I tried to do something silly or fun each day, but after Monday’s “dance party” and Tuesday’s “impromptu dinner out,” I started to run out of ideas. Wednesday’s fun idea was literally to pull a chair up to the fireplace and look at a catalog. (I did enjoy myself immensely though).
By Thursday, it struck me that I don’t even know what is fun for me anymore. I’m so saturated in my routine, my kids, my job, my marriage, that I’ve become totally disconnected from what BRINGS ME JOY. Of course, my family brings me joy, but I’m talking about joy to me as an individual, not as a mother or a wife.
When I think back to what was fun to me 20 years ago, my memories take me to times where I felt carefree, when I was able to just let go and be completely in the moment. Dancing, laughing with best friends, falling in love, being creative, being inspired by new ideas. These moments were often spontaneous and filled with chest-bursting joy.
Being naturally carefree, young people and children are more connected with that sense of ease and fun. Recently, I took an informal survey of the neighborhood kids and asked what is fun to them. They all had one response in common: PLAY. (also looking at rainbows, jumping in puddles, and cuddling).
Play is actually defined by Merriam Webster as “the spontaneous activity of children.” Spontaneity is at the heart of fun. That’s why when I tried to have fun, it felt forced and unnatural.
Now I’m on a quest to be more spontaneous and pay attention to what fun is to me. I’m going to notice those moments when my heart lights up, my defenses fall away, and time slips by unnoticed. I’ll push myself to follow my curiosities and be open to letting fun find me. My door is open.
I’m willing to bet that just by opening that door, joy will start to spill in because we are meant to be happy humans. Our true nature is bliss, and we all have that spark of fun within. We just have to reconnect with that spirited and slightly mischievous six-year-old that is dormant within us. Sometimes, that means painting the kitchen cabinets with delicious swirls of chocolate pudding.