Today I’m writing for Working Mother magazine on combatting loneliness. You won’t believe how simple this process is and yet so challenging for us women today.
Sitting on the swing, feeling the wind blow through my hair as I flew into the sky and felt the tossing and turning of butterflies in my tummy was pure bliss- for the first time in years, I was actually swinging. Beside me my eight year old son Noah was laughing and saying “Mommy look! We are swinging at the exact same height!” Perfectly in synch, although for just a moment, we sailed through the air and for a moment…I felt like a young girl again. Giggling I kicked my legs in an effort to go higher and higher…I couldn’t believe how good it felt to let go and immerse myself in the pure joy of childlike fun.
How many times have I gone to the park with Paris and Noah, only to sit and watch them play? For years I have gone only to sit and watch or dabble on my cell phone checking in on email, social media and texts. Isn’t that what moms do? We drive, sit, watch and wait…while our children live their lives, play with friends and have incredible life experiences. Yet over the last year something changed. I started to ask myself, “Why do they get to have all the fun?” I found myself jealous as I watched my daughter challenge herself to do a back tuck at gymnastics or Noah center up and position his feet in the perfect position to hit the ball and quickly run to first base. I would think to myself, “Why am I just sitting here?”
The young girl inside of me was literally starting to surface in everything I did. “Can I come out and play?” I felt her voice, her presence and her desire to bring fun, adventure and joy back into my life. So I said yes- literally! I made a conscious decision that I was no longer going to sit around and watch. I was going to get in the game and play. Like my children, I too wanted to have fun. I love being a mom, running a business and being a wife but what I miss is the freedom of plain old fashioned fun!
Since that time I’ve made it a point to play a little bit every day. I no longer care what people around me think because in my heart I know- they want to play too; so I’m taking the lead and doing what I’ve longed to do all these years. When I take Noah to baseball I get out on the field with him before the game and play catch, I run the bases and hit the ball. Before bed I grab a deck of cards, look at my kids with a competitive eye and say, “Who wants to play?” and when stepping on stage to speak to an audience at a conference, all grown up and in my fancy suit I think to myself, “Remember when this was your dream?” No more zoning out as I speak for the 10,000th time- I’m there, full of passion and joy as I savor in the fact that I once dreamed of this job…and today it’s my freakin’ reality!
I don’t know how to explain the transformation I’ve experienced other than saying, “I feel alive!” I’ve always been a passionate person, full of life but the truth is, like other women- I’ve been a walking zombie! Alive, fully functioning but sort of dead inside- Tired, stressed, anxious and part of a vicious cycle called “Being a grown up”- I was going through the motions. While I love my kids and wouldn’t trade a moment of my mom experience for the world, I would trade in my laundry and housework for a housekeeper (which I have!), meal planning and cooking for a chef (on my list), and carpooling to school and sporting events for a chauffeured limo driver! While that sounds nice the fact is it’s not realistic- so what I’ve done instead is found a way to make ordinary days extraordinary by putting the power of play into everything I do. The result is I’m laughing more, relaxed, less serious and more in tune to life and the many joys in it.
If you’re reading this blog then odds are you are a mother and wife who also manages a full time, chaotic work schedule. You do everything for everyone but you. I would like to be your voice of reason and my goal is to inspire you to step back, relax, take the pressure off and start to add play into your day. At first it will seem a little odd- if not crazy; but I promise, you will feel more alive than ever before! So the next time your kids are playing, get in the game! Sing at the top of your lungs when hearing your favorite song, skip to get the mall, put the windows down, let the wind blow through your hair and find pictures in the clouds. Life is rich and full of wonder- sadly the woman, bogged down by life is missing it all. Open your eyes, take a deep breath and make the decision to get your girl back once and for all.
If you’d like to join in on the fun and get my blog post by email, sign up at http://bit.ly/1j2ol3s. You can also share your own stories and ideas here on my blog or on my Facebook Fan page at Get Your Girl Back movement. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Written by Traci Bild, Author and Founder of the Get Your Girl Back movement
Never in my life have I been in a physical fight- until yesterday. I can’t even begin to explain the adrenaline that was rushing through my body as I held my fist up high threw a punch with my right hand, brought my left in for a solid hook and them bam! Punched again with my right fist for what felt like a lethal blow. I was angry, excited, energized and in a fight or flight state all at the same time. I’d actually never felt anything like this in my life…I was kickboxing and it was crazy fun!
If you’ve been following this Power of Play blog series, you know that I’m serious about play. Just because you’re all grown up doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Each week and more often, every day, I’m making time for play. What I’m finding is that the more playing I do, the easier it comes and the more ideas I have. When I first began this series, I had to look for things to do that were fun and put in real effort. Now it’s become a way of life.
Just yesterday I played tag three times, hula hooped (and learned how to throw it so that it comes right back to me, how cool is that) and played catch- all in one day. In my quest to play I’ve found that it doesn’t take any extra time- what it takes is the desire to want to play and have real fun. Here’s how simple it is- Yesterday we went to get ice cream and while Noah and I waited for Paris to finish hers I looked at him and said, “Want to play tag?” You should have seen the look in his eyes! He said, “Yes!” and took off running. We were both laughing so hard that I forgot that I was a grown woman hanging out at an ice cream store playing tag (how embarrassing- as I was playing full out)!
When we got home, the kids jumped out of the car and Paris grabbed her hula hoop. “Have one for me?” I said- She excitedly threw me a hoop and although I was horrible (it’s been 20 years!), we laughed a lot. Keep in mind that we didn’t spend an hour hula hopping…it was more like ten minutes, but for that ten minutes, I was a girl…Traci Shafer…the one from the past who loved to play Barbie’s, board games and follow the leader.
Before I began this process to get my girl back, I would have never thought to play. I was the mom who “watched” her kids play. Getting in the game has transformed my life in so many ways. Most importantly I’m having fun, laughing and experiencing joy in the most simple of things. I am feeling less grown up and more childlike…I can’t tell you how good this feels because in truth- it’s been far too long. With a national company and a third book in the midst of the publishing process my life can be pretty crazy. Playing has changed my perspective entirely- things that once freaked me out don’t bother me. I’m less serious, more spontaneous and fully engaged in living in the moment. My entire perspective is different and it’s empowering.
That leads me to my fight yesterday. Because I’m tired of “going to the gym,” I’ve been experimenting with all different kinds of exercises that fall into the category of fun and I’m having a blast! This week I did Pilates on Monday, Kickboxing on Tuesday and today I went for a walk on the beach with my mom. I feel as if I have awakened from a long sleep- the sun is brighter, the water bluer, and the breeze softer on my skin.
I dare you- to join me in the quest for play, adventure and fun! Life is so serious all the time- there is always going to be something to do; someplace to go and something to clean…give yourself a break. Your partner will find you more fun, your kids will be in a state of shock and utter happiness and you- you will feel alive.
Each week, as part of my Power of Play blog series, I will share what I’m doing . . . to fuel ideas for you! I encourage you to get in the game and read my recent blogs for ideas. If you’d like to join in on the fun and get my blog post by email, sign up at http://bit.ly/1j2ol3s. You can also share your own stories and ideas here on my blog or on my Facebook Fan page at Get Your Girl Back movement. I can’t wait to hear from you. .
Written by Traci Bild, Founder of the Get Your Girl Back movement & expert on Women’s Issues
“I don’t have the time.”
For most of us women, this is one of our all-time favorite cop outs. Ask me why I don’t work out and my answer is, “I’m too busy, I simply don’t have time.” Challenge me on the importance of cooking healthy meals rather than running through a fast food restaurant after a long night at gymnastics with Paris and my answer is, “I would love to but I don’t have time.” Remind me that I have a gorgeous and loving husband who needs my attention and a sense of connection and my answer is, “I don’t have the time or energy.”
Sound familiar? The truth is women don’t have time to exercise, cook healthy meals or spend time with their partners. Between working forty hours or more outside the home, the commute to and from work, after school activities, homework, never-ending cleaning and laundry as well as the rare attempt to cram in the chapter of a book or a mindless television show to shut off the brain…finding additional time is sort of like glimpsing a double rainbow- it’s magical yet rare.
If you’re sort of sighing with relief… in knowing that you are not alone, I would like to ask you a deeper question- “Is this how you really want to live?” You know that you have to stay healthy and that means getting regular exercise and eating properly…if you are in a relationship, you’re in it probably because you love the person you are with. The result of making excuses is only going to create more deep seeded guilt and anxiety over not doing what you know you need to do! I know it’s crazy, right?
I remember sitting in my kitchen and unbuttoning my Mrs. Me Jeans because my belly was hanging over them and it was uncomfortable. “It’s just a muffin top,” I thought- I have two kids! But then I didn’t just feel it but stood in front of a mirror and looked at it, yes my muffin top- Blueberry, peanut butter, chocolate or whatever it was…it was no longer just a muffin but a full blown entrée! How was this possible (I wondered) – overall, I eat healthily…or was I?
That day, I did something different. I decided to stop making excuses. Instead of hiding behind the famous, “I don’t have the time,” I realized that I had to make the time. The fact is, a flat stomach wasn’t a priority to me, but good health was. It dawned on me that at 44 I was collecting an extra 5 pounds or so a year and that by the time I was 50, those Mrs. Me jeans would long be gone and on someone more fit to wear them.
It was time to own up and take stock of my life, the things that mattered most to me- my health, my family, and my sanity. I literally removed the words, “I don’t have time” from my vocabulary. Instead I learned to say, “It’s not a priority.” At least this way I own it.
So I got serious about my health…reflecting back I now see that I was eating way too many carbs, skipping meals, living on lattes and getting exercise in every so often. Now, when I plan my weekly calendar, I make sure that fitness, meal planning, family fun and date night are all built in and color coded in my calendar. I’m treating the things I care about as the priorities they are. I feel more in control of my life because there’s no one to blame things on anymore. All I have to do is look in the mirror and take ownership.
It’s not easy being a woman in the 21st Century- in fact, it’s damn near impossible not to crawl up into fetal position and hide in a corner. The best antidote is to fight back- with fun, adventure, laughter and a commitment to stay focused on the priorities that matter most in your life. To give the time and attention to those things- that at the end of the day, really do matter most. Then and only then will you feel less anxious, more inspired and empowered as a woman, wife, mother, daughter and friend. While only four words, “I don’t have the time”- they hold tremendous power. I challenge you to take that power back starting today by eliminating them from your vocabulary.
Written by Traci Bild Founder of the Get Your Girl Back Movement- (www.GYGB.com)
My palms were sweaty as I carefully looked over the evidence. A crime had been committed, heinous- and it was up to me to convey exactly what had happened. My heart beat faster and faster as I realized it was my turn to share what I felt had occurred that night. I looked at my kids who sat quietly beside me trembling in fear. “Okay, it was Mrs. Scarlett, with the lead pipe, in the library.” Paris looked at her evidence and discreetly showed me the lead pipe. Darn! That was not the weapon used. It was Noah’s turn…we were in a heated game of Clue.
When I was a girl, games were a favorite past time. I remember going to my cousin’s and playing them for hours on end…Life, Monopoly, and of course Clue- my favorite! We would throw on pajamas, spread the board games out on the floor, and play until the wee hours of the night. Our screams and laughter would ripple through the house as we assumed the lead or in the case of Monopoly- were sent to jail!
Clearly this is powerful memory because tears are dripping down my cheeks as I write. For a moment I’m there again- in my jammies, reliving those moments and how special they were- Time with cousins, playing games, being a girl and having fun. Yet I have to confess something really embarrassing– I’ve let years of my life go by without playing a single board game. Worse yet, I have kids!
It’s not that we don’t play games in our home but the truth is that I oftentimes just sit and watch as my husband and the kids or Uncle Adam and the kids play games. I’m too busy in the background making dinner, cleaning up the kitchen or doing laundry- so I watch from the sidelines.
In truth, on any of these occasions I could have stopped and jumped in the game. Players always call to me, “Come on Traci, sit down with us and play!” Yet each time I have every damn excuse in the world. Yet the real excuse, the one I didn’t see until recently is that I don’t know how to sit down! I’m in constant motion, like one of those poor Polar Bears in Alaska who drowns because all the ice has melted and they can’t find a solid piece to rest on while hunting. Like the bears, I find myself drowning- but by choice.
So as part of my Power of Play Blog Series I made a decision to play. I didn’t explain to anyone what I was doing, I just dug down inside myself and asked my girl to help me- you know, the one who laughed so hard she would pee her pants, who lived to play with her Barbies and couldn’t wait to run out the back door when at my cousins and pick juicy Concorde grapes off the vine and devour them by the dozens (I buy them every season in honor of this memory)!
The good news is I’m no longer drowning. I gave myself a lifeline- through play! It’s changed my life. Last week I wrote my blog about playing dodge ball and if you didn’t read it, you have to now, it’s so fun! I’ve realized that no one can save me but me! Multi-tasking all day, every day and dropping into bed exhausted each night is not how I want to live my life. At the age of 44 my life is half over (quality) and I’m determined to squeeze every ounce of juice out of it that I can.
So here I am- each day I wake up and rather than grab my phone and check email (while anxiety starts to set in), I think, “What fun is on the agenda today?” Yes I still have two companies to run, a household to maintain and kids to care for (and an amazing husband to spend time with) but I’ve re-prioritized my life, put things in perspective and am giving myself permission to play!
I know it may sound crazy and seem impossible to even consider how you can do this in your life, but you can! Here are simple ideas to get you started- when you make breakfast consider making a pot of tea and having a tea party with your kids or OMG by yourself! Yes, you will feel so proper and British…and remember doing this as a girl! Before going to bed at night step outside, lay a blanket on the ground and just look up at the stars. As you lay there you will drift into a place of wonder, perhaps see a shooting star to wish upon and begin to ask yourself those age old questions…”Is there anyone else out there?” And let yourself ask these questions! Were you so political when you were a girl?
Okay so you get the point. Play. Play. Play. Play! Take each ordinary day and start to make it extraordinary. With each passing day you will get more creative, find more possibility and joy in things you can do to enlighten your life and the lives of those around you. So, here is my wish for you this week. Get your favorite board games out and play them! If you have kids they will be so excited and if you have girlfriends they will be all over it because it’s been far too long for them as well (you will be a hero). In fact, why not have a slumber party? It’s time to stop thinking so much and just do it- have fun!
I love, love, love to hear from you so please post here on my blog (below the post) what your favorite game was when you were a girl or your experiences as you pull that game out again and relive those childhood moments. If you never did play games in your home then it’s time to try something new! Give yourself the gift of a new game. Keep the game out on your kitchen table or in the open where you see it daily- this will encourage you to play more often. As you play, you will become childlike again and the thoughts of bills, work and that never ending to do list will subside as you experience true joy, connection and laughter with the people across the board.
Written by Traci Bild Founder of the Get Your Girl Back Movement- Putting the Power of Play Back in the Gam ( www.GYGB.com)
It’s not often that you try to nail your 8 year old son in the face with a hard rubber ball. But last week, that’s exactly what I did. When I missed, my son Noah taunted me with a little booty dance. “You little stinker” I yelled, “I’m gonna get you”. I quickly grabbed another ball and while staring directly at Noah, fired it at Paris—my 10 year old daughter—slamming her square in the chest. “You’re going down mom”, she shrieked in mock fury. The next ball flew out of my hands and right into my husbands…crap I’m in trouble! He then begins to fire off balls so hard and fast I thought he might put a hole through our garage door. We were all red-faced, sweaty and slightly hysterical. It was awesome.
Sounds kind of sketchy, I know, but don’t worry, I wasn’t beating my kids. I was just playing with them . . . a good old fashioned game of dodge ball. You see, I’m tired of sitting it out. Day after I day I watch my kids play — baseball and gymnastics, swinging and jumping on the trampoline – and I sit and watch. We cart our kids around from one activity to another, they play while we “busily” attend to our to do list, or scroll through Facebook, or just zone out. But I’m sick of it. Call me selfish but I want to have fun too. And rather than continue to think about it, last week I decided to do something . . . starting with this incredibly fun game of dodge ball. And guess what, since our first game, we’ve been out there every day playing.
I bet when you were a kid, there were things you loved to do, that brought you incredible joy. In most cases, you didn’t even think about what you were doing, you just did it: hula hooping, tea parties, dancing, putting on your mother’s make up and more. Do you remember that feeling of joy that playing brought you? When I was a girl, I loved to jump into my bedroom closet and play spaceship with my brother Todd. “Captain, ready for takeoff!” Another favorite? I pretended to be the drummer for the rock band Kiss! My brother, his friends and I, would put on concerts and I swear…I could hear the screams of the crowd, feel the beat of the drums and the adoration of my fans as I rocked out to “I… wanna rock and roll all night!”
I love these memories because playing was fun! So I have an idea for you. Join me and bring the power of play back into your life. Just because you’re all grown up doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Not so sure? Let me inspire you. Since our first game of dodge ball, I’ve actively been playing every day. I have to admit, at first it felt a little odd but within a few days, I felt different; freer, lighter, giddier, and my kids were commenting on how much fun they were having too. What started as an experiment has morphed into a true reconnection with my girl; the one whose life was ruled by giggles, imagination, and adventure . . . As opposed to anxiety, stress and rigid schedules.
The more I play the more I remember who my girl was, what she enjoyed and more importantly, how she felt. While I love my life and being a “grown up”, I miss the freedom of my youth (When the words guilt, fear, and worry weren’t even in my vocabulary). As I’m learning to play again, and get my girl back, I’m also weaving that feeling of joy into everything else I do. It’s as if a light switch has been turned on and a breath of fresh air has infused my life.
So here is your mission: start playing. Do something you used to do as a kid — jump rope or hula hoop instead of going to that dreaded fitness class. Or if your kids are playing, get in the game and play with them. If you’re not sure exactly what to do, start by playing a game of dodge ball!
Each week, as part of my Power of Play blog series, I will share what I’m doing . . . to fuel ideas for you! I encourage you to get in the game and give play a try (starting with Dodge Ball this week). While it was difficult to figure out what to do at first, it’s now easy- because I’m having so much fun and you will too!
If you’d like to join in on the fun and get my blog post by email, sign up at http://bit.ly/1j2ol3s. You can also share your own stories and ideas here on my blog or on my Facebook Fan page at Get Your Girl Back movement. I can’t wait to hear your fun ideas and how it’s impacting your life.
Written by Traci Bild, Founder of the Get Your Girl Back movement & expert on Women’s Issues