children · community · creativity · environment · family · mental health · play

Play Takes Dedication (or Samhain Resolutions)

creative adult

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already November. Fall has been going fast.

It seems like I have been incredibly “busy with stuff” – kid stuff, grown-up stuff, house stuff, work stuff. Recently I realized I was forgetting to do all the also-important “me” stuff.


I mean, I wasn’t so bad; I had had several coffee dates with friends, taken time to go for more walks, was deliberately NOT folding laundry and instead just snuggling on the couch during my husband’s and my Friday night TV ritual (we won’t admit it’s a ritual but at this point it really is).

So the “little” maintenance stuff was getting done. Check.

However, I realized I wasn’t making time for the “big stuff”. The stuff that gave me purpose, that made me feel like I was contributing back to the community.

A few recent events reminded me of this.

First: Getting to attend and present at a fantastic conference two weeks ago – EPIC (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference) held in Montreal this year – where I was surrounded by like-minded folks in my line of work (ethnography and studying humans in business and corporate settings). There’s nothing like being able to share your work and how you spend your days, and have people say, “wow, that’s cool!” or even “have you considered this too?”, rather than “uh, what’s that?”


Second: Halloween! While I’m not a huge fan of candy (and we ended up trading the kids’ candy for a “better” treat), I do appreciate the communal ritual of kids running like hooligans up and down their neighborhood streets, getting to show off their costumes to the grown-ups who might otherwise be isolated – whether they’re retirees or just work 70+ hours a week – who then get to be social with cute kids in cute costumes and make the kids happy by giving them treats. Not to mention the fun of dressing up and pretending to be someone or something else, or just offering a visual pun or cultural reference!

Batman and a zombie
wrecking ball
I came in like a wrecking ball…

Third: my boss organized an offsite for our whole team to use glue and stickers and washi tape and cut out pictures from magazines and create “vision boards” for ourselves. Theoretically it was about work, but in reality and fully endorsed by our boss, it was really about finding four big-but-small goals that are going to keep you motivated, keep you driven, at home, at work, and in life.

vision board

Mine were pretty simple yet also pretty complicated:

  1. Craft more.
  2. Make my work more actionable (not just work for work’s sake; what were the actions that could be taken from it?).
  3. Go on one “big” adventure a year.
  4. Get people playing more.

Getting myself to play seems hard enough; but getting others to play more also taps into that #2 goal of making what I do impactful/actionable.

I want to do more than just support play, I want to start actively PLAYING and pushing play. Start toy-bombing again. Start promoting play activities with our neighbors and at work. I’m supposed to be in charge of a yarn bombing event at work, and yet I’ve been hesitant to promote the HELL out of it (not sure why).

All of those things have really pushed me to making both personal play and advocating play more of a reality.

Yes, the house still needs cleaning (desperately!). Yes, we still need to run and grab food at the grocery store. Yes we still have But having a mission makes all of those things more tolerable for me, and put into a perspective of being part of a larger goal. I need food to keep up my energy. I need to tidy (okay, also scrub/purge/deep clean) the house so I can find what I need and focus on my projects.

I’ve noticed over the years I coincidentally tend to come up with my “new year’s resolutions” around the pagan New Year of Samhain rather than the Gregorian New Year on January 1, so all of these experiences make it a perfect time to renew and re-assert my goals and energy towards play.

What are some of your goals for renewing yourself and keeping yourself inspired and enriched? Let me know in the comments below.

anthropology · creativity

Mindful photographic consumption

I was exposed to this visual project courtesy of Shreve at Honey Rock Dawn:

For one year, William Rugen photographed almost every single thing he ate, snacked on, or otherwise consumed.

My first impression was “that’s dedication.” And an insight into a man who looooves peanuts and chocolate.


behavior · environment · happiness · health · Me · mental health

Special Project: Me

"Running with the seagulls", Galvest...
This is an example of a personally enriching environment. The question is how do I get there (figuratively), without running away and becoming beach bum (literally)?

This blog explores the integration of environment and wellness, both emotional and physical. So far I’ve looked at positive psychology, museums, education, urban farming, neurology, environmental sciences, architecture, play, exercise, and almost everything in between. The whole point of starting this blog was to explore the science behind what it takes to make us happy, healthy, wholly-functioning humans. What does it take to be happy? How does one’s home, job, family, dog, car, bicycle, clothing, toys, i.e. their environment, their world, fit into that? I was, and AM, curious about what it takes to be holistically happy?

But with all the quick posts, longer posts, and cool news snippets, one subject on this blog that has only hinted at: me. What does it take in my environment to make me happy?  What do I need surrounding for mental wellness?

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t been doing a good job of exploring that. In the past nine months I’ve changed residences twice, changed jobs numerous times, lost sleep, gained an injury, lost mobility, changed exercise plans so many times I’ve lost count, gained weight, lost friends, gained a gray hair or two (I’m 28!),  lost family, gained furniture, lost some dreams, had my dreams change, lost hope, changed my commute mode, and gained even more patience. But I haven’t really looked at what it would take to make me happy. What I need to do to put myself in a healthy, fulfilling, sustainable environment.

At first I thought discussing myself and my quest for happiness, wellness, and all around goodness would take away from this blog, and my focus on research, ideas, and theoretical rather than the actual doing. But the truth is I am in this blog already, whether actively or not. So why not be in all the way? It’s supposed to make you happier if you can fully commit to something, anyway.

So, just as a heads up to my few readers; you will be seeing a bit more of me, the actual me, around this place. As of today, March 3rd, 2011, I am making it my overarching goal to become happier, healthier, and a better version of me. I am going to make my environment an enriching place; that includes what I put in, on, and around my body, and what I use to feed my mind. And I plan to hold myself accountable by writing about it here. My accomplishments, slip-ups, and epiphanies.

All the studies and research and cool enriching stuff I find will not go away, not by any stretch. It’s just that now you get ME as an added bonus. Lucky y’all!

This is a very dangerous place for me, BTW, out in the open (The irony is I was called M.E. as a child (those are my initials), but I chose another name when I was six because I didn’t like being called “me.” Maybe I should have stuck with it). I’m definitely not in my most comfortable surroundings exposing myself in this way to the entire blogosphere. But it’s a much-needed shake out of my comfort zone in order to be ready to take on new challenges.

Are you also exploring your wellness, what you find enriching? I’d be interested in hearing your story or you sharing your blog with me; strength in numbers and all that.



behavior · happiness · health · mental health

The Problem With Getting Better, Happier And Stronger — a life in translation

Life has been crazy for me lately, with lots of changes. And even though it is good change, it hasn’t been fun. It’s actually been kind of scary and stressful. I discovered this blog post at the beginning of this summer, when the change was just starting to get rolling – yes, change can also take a loooong time. But re-reading it, and re-re-reading it, is a nice reminder that I’m not alone in my feelings.

Sometimes I think about why there aren’t more people running, sprinting towards greatness. Why there aren’t more people continually evolving into something better, stronger, and happier. I wonder this a lot as I read or listen to stories about miserable jobs and unsatisfying home lives and dreams that have been left to decompose. And, I think I’m starting to understand why some people just stay, as they are, and stop aspiring for betterment.

…changing for the better constantly and drastically, well, for lack of a better word, can completely suck sometimes. As much as you want to believe that everyone around you will be supportive and gracious about this new and improved you, it’s sometimes not the case.

more via The Problem With Getting Better, Happier And Stronger — a life in translation.

I’m just thankful that I do have people around me who support my change. Be kind to those around you who are changing, growing, developing further into who they are.