THE BLOG
08/21/2013 10:47 am ET Updated Oct 21, 2013

Playing Around and Re-imagining My Life After 50

It's been three months since I left my full-time corporate job. So, why am I still having tension headaches? Why am I busier than ever? Why am I racing to yoga so I can slow down when I get there?

My coach, Dr. F, says that "while I am semi-retired I'm still acting like the Type A person I've been for the past 35+ years."

I don't have to keep up the fast-paced lifestyle anymore, I don't need to reach the top of the mountain or climb the tallest ladder of success or even get dressed every morning to play the part. However, what I do need to do is give myself permission to change. After losing my spouse, selling my house, emptying out my nest, leaving my job and most recently losing my mom, it's time to take care of myself. Time to renew, refresh and re-imagine my life -- mind, body and spirit.

Dr. F says I should schedule "play time" into each day. I just read an article about "play" in the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. It features an interview with Natalie Rusk of MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group.

Natalie says that "play teaches us to relax, explore, connect." She says that "A really great yoga teacher will help you approach the poses in a spirit of delight. Play is also a great way to learn about resilience. When a child plays, she fails and revises." (My yoga teachers N and P encourage us to relax, explore and connect during each class. No wonder I like yoga so much. Yoga is a practice, so it's okay if I cannot strike a pose correctly or touch my toes -- it's only me and my mat -- no competition.)

Natalie says that to bring more play into my everyday life, I must "start by giving myself permission. And then do it, even if it feels silly." (Ooh, ooh, ooh, didn't I just use that "permission" word earlier -- I think I am ready for a play date. First step done.)

Natalie shares some fun ways to increase play:

-"Engage the senses: Eat blindfolded, roll down a hill, blow bubbles, make crazy mouth noises. Go to a toy store and buy the most appealing blocks and then see what you can do with them." (I love blowing bubbles. I haven't blown bubbles since my kids, A and D, were toddlers. I am definitely going to buy some bubbles and schedule some bubble time into my day.)

-"Use play to figure things out: If you're struggling to explain something, try expressing your ideas with a sketch. Go hang out with kids for an afternoon." (OK, I think I will get a sketch pad and express myself in non-verbal ways. I'll have to find some kids on the beach to boogie board with me when I am at my condo on the corner at the shore. Or maybe I'll see if my boyfriend L will boogie board with me.)

-"Above all, create. Look at the stars and make up new constellations, then tell their stories. When you see something that doesn't work, brainstorm ways to fix it. The materials for play are available -- you just have to change how you approach them." (Sounds like I do need to change my approach during my life after 50. Sounds like I should slow down and add more play time into my day time and maybe my night time too.)

-Life Reimagined. Since I am a member of the AARP Kitchen Cabinet of Caregivers, I also plan to also check out the new "Life Reimagined" idea from AARP. It's a single source for tools, online and in person, that helps people who want to pursue a passion or take a new direction and navigate change.

For now, I can't wait to go and play. Think I will count some sheep to help me fall asleep - I used to play this game when I was a kid. If I can't fall asleep maybe I will play a round of Boggle or play with my magnetic YOGA poetry kit. What fun!

Judi

Note: I am a member of AARP's blogger kitchen cabinet on caregiving issues. All opinions are my own.