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Why is taking playtime so hard for some ? April 26, 2011

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons.
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”I have found that remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives are probably the most important factors in being a fulfilled human being.” Stuart Brown, M.D.

This is the last week for  “Play is Serious Work,” and I want to acknowledge that sometimes allowing ourselves to have fun is just plain hard.
For instance, I was talking with a client last week who clearly understood this dilemma.  I’ll call her RockStar.  Let me paraphrase what she told me:
“I have this crazy to-do list that just keeps growing. Last weekend, I really wanted to go to a motorcycle race that I’d been looking forward to for months.  But, Friday night, I started fighting with myself.  Part of me was saying, ‘Stay home and work.  Look at all the stuff on your to-do list.’  The other part of me said, ‘Go. Have fun. This race only happens once a year.’”
Her conscientious, hard-working self battled mightly against her fun-needing self.  “Work? Play?  Work?   Play?” The powers tussled. They tugged. They taunted.
Happily, I’m proud to report, play emerged victorious.  RockStar chose to go to the motorcycle race that weekend and reported she felt so much better, emotionally and physically, when she returned home.  She was energized and renewed and ready to once again take on her to-do list.
I know this scenario plays out in your life on a regular basis, too.  We are imbued with the Puritan work ethic and it is a daily fight to keep the toil mongers at bay and remember to also enjoy the pleasures life has to offer.
Since begging is never pretty, I will instead implore you (synonym for beg)  to take time during your precious days to play.  Nothing complicated. Nothing expensive. Just…play.
If you need more convincing, take a few minutes to read the first chapter of Dr. Stuart Brown’s book, Play.  How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.  If that sparks your interest, you can also visit The National Institute for Play website to explore more ideas about the importance of play in personal health, relationships, education and companies.
Still stuck?  Give me a call or shoot me an
email.  With a little Coaching, you, like RockStar, can learn to give your hard-working, hard-driving self permission to play.
Your Life and Play Coach,
Francie Cooper,
P.S.  For more info on this topic, tune in to this week’s internet radio episode of TapaPalapa!  Steve and I are at the park planning our own Play Days!

Aahhhhhhh! Spaahhhhhhh! April 21, 2011

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons.
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“Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.”  Roger von Oech
Play is serious work. That’s what we’re supposed to be focusing on this month and, I have to admit, I have not been holding up my end of the bargain.
First, allergies had me down and out for a while.  Then, I hurt my shoulder.  Then, this past weekend, I went to two end-of-life services and spent an entire day tidying up the yard.  Waah, waah, waah.  Where was the play?  Where were the laughs?  Not in my neck o’ the woods, that’s for sure.
So, this week my mission is to bring back the fun. In my last Weekly Companion, I discussed calm, outdoor fun, and this week I want to switch it up to exploring calm, indoor fun.
When I think of indoor fun, my mind immediately turns to the ever-tranquil, ever-pleasurable spa experience.  Ok, I confess I’m a bit of a spa snob.  For instance, I love a particular one just 45 minutes from my house because, a) it’s close, and b) you can hang out there all day.  
First, I schedule a massage, facial, mani or pedi.  Then I’m free to enjoy a dip in the indoor hot tub, the sauna, steam room and lunching by the pool. Next, I might be ready for a frosty adult beverage, reading myriad decorating or food magazines, followed by a lovely, warm, multi-head shower with an array of spa-provided, yummy-smelling shampoos, conditioners, gels and lotions.  Ahhhhhh.  Doesn’t it make you want to schedule your spa day right now?
It’s especially fun when you do this with a group of friends or your beloved.  In the facility I’m thinking of, they have both men’s and women’s sides, a couples’ massage room, and the roof-top pool and outdoor hot tub are co-ed, too.
The idea is to relax, be pampered and have fun all in one lovely spot.  While I haven’t had the pleasure of taking this particular outing in quite a while, I know it doesn’t have to be terribly expensive.  I’ve used a Groupon there for a half-price massage, and, with the exception of food and drink, the rest is gratis. 
Since I don’t have permission to mention the specific name of this little slice of heaven, shoot me an email and I’ll let you in on my secret.  I’m sure you’ll want to try it out for yourself soon.
Yours in aaahhhhhhhhhhh,
Francie Cooper,
Life Coach
P.S.  For more info on this topic, tune in to this week’s internet radio episode of TapaPalapa!  We’re talking about the amazing benefits you will get from taking care of yourself through bodywork and play!

Chillax! April 12, 2011

Posted by franciecooper in Uncategorized.
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“People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.”
– John Wanamaker

Chillax.  Yes, it’s a relatively new word, but it is found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It means to chill out and relax simultaneously. I like this idea a lot!
Since most of us are dealing with increasing time pressures, steadily rising volumes of email, constant voice and text messages, and more competition at every level, it harder to wind down and chillax. Millions use TV, alcohol or drugs to change their mood in a desperate attempt to relieve worry, concern and anxiety.  The trouble is, in the long term, these solutions can cause extra stress themselves.
So let’s look at some easy ways to chillax – things you can do right now, today: read a chapter of an ebook; turn on Pandora and listen to music; take your lunch and sit under a tree. Tonight, stop on your way home and buy a kite to fly this weekend, watch a funny film, or enjoy a meal out with friends.
Chillaxing is all about making time for things  you enjoy.
Another approach to chillaxing is to do a simple, overall all body relaxation exercise.  Here’s one you can do any time:
Systematically tense and relax different muscles in your body at the same time as taking slow, deep breaths. With regular practice, this technique enables you to understand what tension, as well as relaxation, feels like in different parts of your body. This awareness will help you spot and counteract the first signs of muscular tension that accompanies stress, and as your body relaxes so will your mind.
  • Take a few slow, deep breaths.
  • Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot,
    squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension
    flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
  • Take a few slow, deep breaths.
  • Slowly tense the muscles in your left foot.
    Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
  • Move slowly up through your body — legs,
    abdomen, back, neck, face — contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
So get your chillax on this week folks.  You’ll be SO happy you did!
Chillaxfully yours,
Francie Cooper
P.S. Steve and I chillax at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden during this week’s internet radio episode of Tapa Palapa. Listen in by clicking here. Did you know you can also follow Tapa Palapa on Facebook and Twitter?

Are You Having Fun Yet? April 7, 2011

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons.
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My friends, Sherry and Robert, declared that 2011 was going to be the “year of having more fun.”  So far, to manifest that goal, they’ve had a back yard bar-b-q complete with adults playing less-than-serious games of ping pong, eaten breakfast outside more often, played with friends frequently, and watched only comedy movies.

All of these activities sound like fun to me, and, at the same time make me want to understand, “Why do we need to have more fun, anyway?  Does it really matter?”
It seems it does.  According to “experts,” the daily grind (jobs, routine chores, kids, etc.) dulls our senses.  We lose our creativity, flexibility, passion and playfulness.
The antidote for this malaise can be simple, but sometimes not easy.  We have to give ourselves permission to PLAY.
By its nature, play is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding.  It generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a boost, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community.  To me, these are all indications of personal health and wellbeing.
The bad news is, if we don’t play enough in our lives, health problems and personal fragility can set in.  Depression and stress-related disease can result.
So, my call to action this month is to HAVE MORE FUN!  It doesn’t have to be time-consuming nor expensive.  Fun, recreation and play can be as easy as going to the park for a picnic, a game of Frisbee, or dancing on the patio in the moonlight.
And, when you’re finished, shoot me an email about what you did!  I want to share as many ideas as I can for bringing more pleasure into your life.
Yours playfully,
Francie Cooper
P.S. On this week’s TapaPalapa internet radio show, Steve and I engage in some fun of our own at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.  Check it out by clicking here.