Giving Ourselves Permission for Rest and Play

Do you (regularly) schedule time for doing nothing or for projects that don’t have a specific end result? Do you put “play” or “rest” on your to-do list?

If you’re anything like me, probably not.

Upper Peninsula Lake Michigan Shoreline in Early Autumn

I came back from vacation last Friday night and it’s spurred me to think about rest and play. Our society is so results oriented. The smartphones in our pockets discourage us from quiet moments of doing nothing. And although I agree it’s good to work hard and achieve goals, I’ve been thinking more and more about how it’s also important — no, necessary — to make time for rest and for play.

Dipping My Toes into Lake Michigan at the First Chance

We spent our vacation on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. I brought a sketchbook, a crochet project, my journal and lots of books.

On the Ferry from Charlevoix Michigan Arriving at Beaver Island

I didn’t touch my sketchbook once while I was away and truth be told, I almost didn’t pack it because I didn’t think would. Even so, not working in my sketchbook brought out rumblings from my inner critic.

At first I went along with those negative thoughts, but then I stopped myself.

Heart Rocks Found by the Water on Vacation on Beaver Island

I realized I need to be gentler with myself. Hadn’t I just claimed that winding down and rejuvenating can bring more joy into your life? And didn’t I recently write about remembering to hold on to the fun?

How easy it is to fall under the pressure of what’s “expected”, or what we assume is expected.

I enjoyed my vacation. I read my books, I crocheted, I soaked up sunshine, I hunted for rocks and fossils and played on the beach with my boys (who needed no encouragement to enjoy the sand and water). Not working in my sketchbooks didn’t take away from my enjoyment.

My Two Retired Racing Greyhounds Love Running on the Beach and Lounging in the Water

Of course, for many people vacations are all about rest and play. They’re a time to recharge our batteries and soak up tranquility, beauty and inspiration.

Peaceful View from the Deck of the House Where We Were Staying on Beaver Island

But I don’t think such rejuvenation needs to be limited to vacations. In fact, I think making rest a regular part of our days is beneficial.

When we’re well-rested we’re happier, healthier and more creative. Society may pressure us to go-go-go, but we can’t keep going for long unless we also recharge.

It’s difficult to find the perfect balance, especially when we’re focused and busy juggling all the things we want to do each day.

This week I was having trouble sleeping, feeling a little exhausted and overwhelmed. I sat down with my journal one morning and brought out my two oracle decks to inspire some writing. I know, I know, oracle decks sound a bit woo-woo, but working with them has been very interesting for me. I have two, both beautifully illustrated by artists I admire. One is Lisa Estabrook’s Soulflower Plant Spirit Oracle Deck. The other is Jessica Swift’s Animal Allies Oracle Cards.

I’ve never used them together, but that day I decided to pull a card from each deck and see what happened. I pulled “Coyote” from Jessica’s deck and “Zinnia” from Lisa’s.

Journaling with Two Oracle Decks

Sometimes the message from the card doesn’t quite fit with what’s going on in my life. And that’s ok. I’m not trying to run my life based on a deck of cards (even cards as beautiful as these). I take insights when they come and when I don’t I move on.

That morning, though, I was struck by the similarity of these two cards. Both suggesting that I lighten up, be more playful and have more fun.

It was a powerful message and one I don’t want to ignore. And so, I’m working on it.

Finding Joy in a Funny Face Spied in a Stump on the Driveway of Where We Were Staying On Beaver Island

Working on giving myself permission to do things just for the fun of it. To play without expectations or pressure. To let go of what’s not fun or fulfilling or joyful (when I can).

If we give ourselves permission for rest, for play, it’s easier to invite those things into our lives. And maybe it’s a good idea to add play and rest to our to-do lists. Maybe it’s time to pencil an afternoon dance party into our schedules.

What do you think?