With busy days, careers, and lives, the idea of taking time out to play can seem like a detour from our sense of purpose, but what if it actually propelled you further?
Shonda Rhimes isn’t your ordinary television writer. She has built a television empire, showrunning multiple shows (including Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder), is living her dream, and is a proud workaholic. "When I am hard at work, when I am deep in it, there is no other feeling," says Shonda.
But one who was losing her drive, her connection to what made her happy; as she describes, her hum. Frequently skipping out on social events or playtime with her kids, no time for fun or games, her hum would steer her away instead to her passion; work, until it stopped completely.
Enter one of her daughters, who one day asked Shonda to play as she was walking out the door. Shonda could have kept going, said her usual ‘no, I’m too busy’ but instead, said ‘yes.’ And that ‘yes’ was the beginning of a new way of life for Shonda and her family.
“There was nothing special about it.” Explained Shonda. “We play. We are joined by her sisters. There is a lot of laughing, and dancing and singing. I give a dramatic reading from Everybody Poops. Nothing out of the ordinary, and yet it is extraordinary.”
The simple act of playing with her daughters unlocked the hum once again in Shonda. Connecting with her daughters made her reconnect with herself and what made her tick. Shonda decided to carry this powerful little word across other areas of her life often neglected because of obligations, or time-poor excuses for a year. And in that year, she changed her life.
Saying ‘yes’ meant prioritising her loved ones, facing her fears of being on camera, to embracing a healthier lifestyle, to the very common challenge of public speaking and re-invigorating much loved work with a new passion.
“The more I play, the happier I am, and the happier my kids are” pronounced Shonda. “The more I play, the freer my mind becomes. The more I play, the better I work. The more I play, the more I feel the hum.”
But don’t think play is asking you to neglect work, skip out on meetings and fall behind in life as time for play can be as little as fifteen minutes.
“Fifteen minutes is all you need. I can totally pull off 15 minutes of uninterrupted time on my worst day.” For Shonda, uninterrupted is key. That undivided focus for fifteen minutes provides the disconnect from the ‘busyness’ of life that actually helps her reconnect to her drive.
From family, to conquering fears, to her work itself, allowing that small window for play has had numerous positive ripple effects. Now, for Shonda “work doesn’t work without play.” Taking part in these simple moments is important for all of us to remember and treasure. For our loved ones, for our passions, for turning fears into accomplishments and for ourselves.
And it all began with a simple invitation to play, and choosing to answer ‘yes.’
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