Legacy Writing: The Value of Play #110


In a sling for six weeks this spring, I had lots of time to reflect on my life and what I want my legacy to be. One of the things I thought about was the balance of work and play and how my imbalance favoring work has been a legacy to my kids and is part of my legacy to my grandkids.

I was raised in a time when hard work was valued and demanded. Work etched a deep pattern in my life: as an author, teacher, therapist, facilitator. Work allowed me to serve and inspire others and nurtured me as well. But that didn't necessarily have to demean or ignore play.

Play is a child's job. -- James Hillman

So in this last quarter of my life while I can still learn new ways of being, I'm learning to play and to open my mind to play. True to form, of course, I'm working at playing more, doing my best to leave guilt behind, to enjoy, and to balance work and play.

It is a happy talent to know how to play. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I didn't learn very well how to play or that I needed to play, didn't learn that play is a counterpart to the significance of work, or that it could teach me something important, or that it could be just plain fun.

Play means different things to each of us; it can be active or sedentary: biking and dancing / fishing and painting; with others or alone: playing bridge / playing solitaire. The key is to discover what is pleasurable for you and let your mind take a rest from work.

Although play can be defined as leisure activity, there is more. Playfulness is also a state of mind: a light-hearted view of life and the world; a sense of humor that shifts your perspective, infuses life with balance and a new freedom.

Almost all creativity involves purposeful play. -- Abraham Maslow

I hope future generations and my family will remember me as a woman who laughed with them as well as cried, who saw the light in life, not only the dark or difficult.

Principles of Practice

1. Reflect on work and play, play and work and how they define who you are and your perspective. What does fun mean for a person of your generation? What priority does play have now in your life, given your values and responsibilities? How do you visualize authentic play in your life now and in your future? What are your attitudes about play -- historically, as a child and adolescent -- and today in your adulthood? How has your relationship with play changed over time?

2. Has play distracted you from finding and knowing who you are, or has play helped you identify your individuality and your authentic self?

3. Set your timer for 15 minutes and write a legacy letter to a playmate -- a contemporary or a grandchild -- about your appreciation of play, its value in your life, and specifically your joy in playing with them.

4. If you have more than one playmate, take time to write other legacy letters about the meaning of play in your life and your appreciation for your playmates.

... May you play freely... and pass on play's lessons and joy to those you love,

-- Rachael Freed

Rachael Freed, Founder of Life-Legacies (for information, visit, Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist. An inspirational lecturer and workshop facilitator, she provides legacy-related programs and training for health care, philanthropic, and religious organizations, for public and non-profit corporations, and for diverse groups of individuals experiencing life transitions. She is the author of Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future Generations and The Women's Legacies Workbook for the Busy Woman: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writing a Spiritual-Ethical Will in 2 Hours or Less. Freed is currently working on: Your Legacy Matters: Harvesting the Love and Lessons of Your Life - An Intergenerational Guide for Creating Your Ethical Will..

Freed has trained cardiac professionals internationally to support cardiac families. The 25th Year Anniversary Edition of Heartmates: A Guide for the Spouse and Family of the Heart Patient will be published in August, 2012 and the Third Edition of The Heartmates Journal: A Companion for Partners of People with Heart Disease, are the only resources available to support the emotional and spiritual recovery of families coping with heart disease. For more information, visit

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