One of the main things I’ve learned while working with my therapist is that I don’t take the time to “play” enough as an adult.  The realization really started to set in, when during one of our sessions I was asked to write my thoughts in two separate columns – one labeled “Things that Stress me out” and the other “Things that Feed My Joy”.  When the column entitled “Things that Stress me out” became full of a long list of items including: the need to always feel accomplished, my to-do list, needing others to be proud of me, and feeling obligated to do things I don’t want to do, I began to realize I might have some problems to sort out.  Then, as I wrote down the things that feed my joy: adventure, spontaneous plans, photography, hanging out on the beach, and seeing or experiencing new things for the first time, I realized how little time I actually spend doing the things that make me happy.  Long story short, such a simple exercise (which I suggest you try doing yourself), was eye opening and pretty mind blowing.  Point made – I need to spend more time feeding my joy and less time stressing over the items I pressure myself with.

Through my therapy, I’ve learned that playing is just as important for adults as it is for children.  Just think of kids playing on a playground – they are laughing gleefully, running around, and daring themselves to climb higher or boldly take on the monkey bars.  If you ever need a reminder in life to slow down and take the time to enjoy things – spend 15 minutes sitting on the outskirts of a busy playground.  Close your eyes and listen to the little feet running along the ground, the gleeful exclamations coming from a nearby tag game, and the sound of laughter and “watch me, mom!” that hits your ears.

During the month of September, I made it my goal to play more, and actually added “Do eight things in San Diego that you’ve never done before” in addition to “Find an activity you enjoy doing alone” to my goal sheet.  John thought eight activities was a bit aggressive, but I was determined – after all, I knew I needed to learn how to play as an adult in order to beat my stomach issues, relax, and become successful in the future.  Everyone needs a break, even Melissa Steele, – it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do.

I started off the month with my first ever college football game, which was held at Qualcomm Stadium here in San Diego (I’d never been there either!).  Although it was an event with coworkers, it was no work, and alllll play.  We had a box to ourselves, and thoroughly enjoyed the game along with an epic firework show after.

FullSizeRender (6)Just one day later, John and I walked down to the bay to see the San Diego Sand Sculpting Competition.  It was epic, the sand sculptures were all very impressive, and the day was typical for San Diego – gorgeous and sunny!  We hung out on the pier as we viewed the artists’ creations and ate some snacks while sitting on the water’s edge.

The following week, John and I had blocked out our work schedule for a much-needed staycation.  Since we hadn’t taken a honeymoon after the wedding, but instead jumped right back into work and life, we decided taking a week for ourselves was necessary.  We spent a lot of time relaxing, enjoying each others’ company, and exploring San Diego.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up with no pain, and decided to jump on the opportunity (woo for spontaneity).  John and I have been wanting to try out jet skiing since moving out here, so we decided to embrace the pain free day with an adventure on the water.  We headed out to Mission Bay and spent the morning flying across the water’s surface.  We took turns driving, and while John was a bit more of a daredevil, I went just as fast!  The jet ski was so fast, reaching speeds of over 50 miles an hour – I felt like my face was going to fall off from the wind (and it certainly did a number on my hair)!

That night, after indulging in a delicious unplanned meal of fresh salmon and clams, John suggested heading to Ocean Beach to catch the sunset.  Upon arriving in OB, we realized it was also the night of the weekly farmer’s market!  It was the first time we’d been to the OB Pier to watch the sunset and coincidentally the first time we’d ever checked out the Wednesday night farmer’s market!  Certainly a memorable day for the books, and I had an epic time living out my goal of playing!

Throughout the rest of the month we continued doing awesome, fun, new things!  We checked out the Balboa Park Museum of Art for the first time, and I was able to see the Coney Island exhibit that I’d been wanting to see all summer.  Just a few days later, we took an afternoon off and spent a day on the beach with coworkers.  We also checked out this cool place called Cinema Under the Stars, which is an outdoor movie theater with reclining seats, pillows and blankets!  We saw the movie The Blues Brothers, and had a fantastic date night.  (It was a very cool spot, if you haven’t been, you should check it out – we’ll definitely be going back there again).  We went to our first concert at Petco Park, and thoroughly enjoyed dancing the night away to one of our favorite artists Major Lazer at the Mad Decent Block Party.

As for finding activities to do on my own without my partner in crime, John, I signed up for an awesome class called “Intro to Shamanic Wisdom”.  It has been an amazing experience so far, and I’m loving the opportunity to get to know a dozen individuals through the intimate-sized class.  I’m learning a ton, and have been really enjoying the class content.

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I also hiked Torrey Pines with two girls that I’ve met through this blog.  Both are dealing with their own digestive issues, so it was great to spend a Monday morning exploring a new (and extremely gorgeous) San Diego spot.  It was an invigorating way to start my week, and really nice to do something with “the girls”.

IMG_9739Since last month was so much fun with all my PLAYING, I’ve kept up the goal this month and have already checked out the San Diego Makers Faire, Rise of the Jack-o-lanterns at the Safari Park, and participated in a local bar’s trivia night with some friends.  I also purchased myself a coloring book and a dramatically large collection of 60 gel pens for my new artistry.  John and I took the full day off this past Monday (first full day off in 15 days!) and I spent roughly eight hours of my day coloring in my new coloring book and watching Friends.  It was gloriously relaxing and mindless!

Taking the time to do things for myself and John this past month has certainly been an eye-opening experience.  I’ve found myself working harder, being more productive, and much less stressed.  I’ve started to realize that I, (along with everyone else in this crazy fast-paced world), need a more balanced lifestyle that involves not only work, but also lots of play.  Especially now, as I’m mid-cleanse, I realize how much of my “free time” is taken up by meal prepping, baking, and (as embarrassing as this may be) time spent in the bathroom.  I’ve realized how important it is to actually pencil time into a schedule for “fun” and how equally vital it is to just say “screw it” some days and leave your work for later to do something spontaneous and fun.

Have you been stressed and overwhelmed yourself?  Maybe it’s time to incorporate some FUN  and PLAY in your life, too! =]

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