How my quest for Playfulness began…

high wire“Play is not the opposite of Work. Play is the opposite of Depression.” (Brian Sutton-Smith)

A lucid dream came to me in my late twenties, when undergoing a holistic massage during a phase of burnout in my career as a corporate sales- and managementtrainer. Here’s what I saw; I am standing way up high in a circustent. Feeling very nervous about the thing I am about to do. I have told the people that I will make the pass on the high wire, ofcourse without a safetynet (who needs a safetynet!). I see the people far below me stretching their necks to look up to me. I do make it to the other end, sweating and exhausted from anxiety. When I am on the other side, I get this moment of deep insight. I recognize my constant and stressful struggle to raise the bar to attract attention and distant admiration from others. I now feel strongly, that I don’t want this anymore. It is costing me too much energy and not delivering me the real connection to others that I long for. I suddenly realize that I want to go on a swing instead, being able to look other people directly and on a same level in the eyes, and have some relaxing FUN.

serious playThe first thing I did was to pick up my love for acting, so I joined an Improvisationgroup in Eindhoven (Netherlands). Improvisation learned me a lot about being in a playful state and our weekly training did me very well. I felt happier, more connected to myself and others, more creative and resilient. And today (almost ten years later) I’m still having this weekly dose of Playful Fun.

It was not untill 2010 that I thought of making a connection between my work as a corporate trainer and my actingexperience with improvisation. When I attented my first Applied Improvisation Network Conference, it felt like I was coming home at last. Since then, a lot of wonderful things have happened. My quest for Playfulness is leading me to bringing Playfulness (and it’s benefits) to the workplace.

With Playful greetings,

Annemarie Steen

(Annemarie Steen is working as a playful learning designer & facilitator)

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6 responses to “How my quest for Playfulness began…

  1. wonderful story – deep insight – thanks so much for sharing this so openly

  2. AnneMarie,

    How wonderful that you were not only able to tap into that inner struggle, to decipher from it what you not only DIDN’T want, but to realize what you DID want, and then actually follow through with those desires and goals… Bravo…

    I absolutely LOVE what you said to Bernie: “although sharing a personal story can feel vulnerable, I believe in ‘the more personal your story is, the more universal it becomes’ ”… Can I attribute the quote (and the quote within the quote) to you?

  3. Hi Anne Marie!
    I participated in a TEDx event in Nacogdoches, TX a few weeks back and one of the speakers spoke on keeping play alive in education, so that our older students don’t lose sight of their own creativity and become “robots” of thought and perspective… (my analysis of the speech)

    Anyway, as I listened to her, I thought of you…told her I’d introduce you, so sending this page off to Melissa McMillian-Cunningham, Educator @Stephen F. Austin University.

    Keep on playing…

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