Nana’s Rule #9 Go Outside and Play

As last month’s posting was an intensely personal commentary on the path I traveled going from ashes of anger (literally) to joy, I felt this month’s writings should be less intense. Thus, I have chosen to share thoughts about Nana’s Rule #9 – Go Outside and Play.

At first glance, this rule might appear to be a phrase that a tired mother or father would say to squabbling children who are underfoot in the house. But that is not the reason behind this rule.

I believe the memories created while spending time “going outside and playing” are among those we treasure most. As I reflect on my childhood, it is not memories of sitting around a TV or social outings with friends that have the greatest emotional pull for me. Instead, the memories that stand out are the ones that involve the “great outdoors”.

My father loved being outdoors—he was in the Navy and he loved boats and boats were always a part of our lives—from small paddle boats to outboard motorboats to a sailboat. Our home was next to a canal in Miami, Florida and we spent countless hours boating in Biscayne Bay. There were picnics and fishing outings and pulling up barrels that had crawfish in them and coming home and cooking them on a Coleman stove in the backyard—served with grits and lots of cocktail sauce.

Not only do I have memories based on the joys of boating, but we went camping many summers in a Nimrod trailer—it was part tent and part trailer. At night there were campfires which were always fun and exciting. My brother and I climbed trees and threw rocks in streams and acted as if we could conquer the world.

This love of the outdoors continued in my married years as a wife and a mother. Some of the memories that I cherish the most are vacations such as snow skiing out West; boating on Lake Hartwell; watching sunsets from the boat; picnics and swimming in coves; our dog Gretchen running down the hill and flinging herself off the dock into the water.

When Chris was young, I helped build a fort where he could “go outside and play” with his best friend Kristin and they spent countless hours running from one yard to the other. They would play outside in the summer evenings—our cul-de-sac was an imaginary baseball field. They chased fireflies and filled jars with them….their lights blinking their messages at us.  The magic and mystery of those moments was contagious.

My parents instilled in me a love of the outdoors and whereas I am not a rugged-mountain woman type and have no desire today to sleep in a tent (or a tent-wanna-be), I still treasure time spent outside. I love sitting on a deck and watching a sunset; walking along the beach; wading in a mountain stream. I draw strength and peace from those moments.

And today, Nana’s Rule #9 plays a role in my choice of activities with my grandchildren, Lauren and Sean. Many of our Nana days are spent at the park or, at my neighborhood pool during summer months. I am also proud of my son and his wife. Their lives are so very busy… they juggle work and friends and family and educational training yet I see their commitment to creating memories that involve the love of nature. They take their children to the park all the time; on blueberry-picking outings and to apple orchards; there are videos of them playing outside and going to the beach and it is obvious that “Go Outside and Play” is a key component of their family life.

I think it is more of a challenge today…or perhaps challenge is the wrong word. There are so very many choices/distractions/ to claim time in a child’s life……technology and iPads and electronic blips across the screens and Big TVS and sounds and noise coming at them all the time….. it takes effort to get up and go outside and play. Electronic entertainment is easier—it takes less energy and everyone can sit in their corner and play with the colored lights and do their own thing.

Yet…. electronic characters will fade from our minds as quickly as they appeared…. Spending too much time with technology decreases our chances to create lasting memories–and we also lose the chance to build memories that can be shared from generation to generation.

And that is what I love best….. it is this generational pull that I love the best. My father shared many outdoor activities with me and he taught me to look into the skies and find the Big Dipper and the Belt of Orion. Later, I did the same with Chris. We had a wonderful book about the constellations and we would take the book with us and lay on the dock at night and look at the stars and I would pass my father’s knowledge down to Chris…I would tell him that the Belt of Orion was my favorite as it was my father’s favorite constellation and as we shared those moments, I was connected….. to my past… to my present…. and to my future.

You see, the day will come that I will look at darkened skies at night and sit in the quiet and paint the sky with my grandchildren. We will find the Belt of Orion and I will share stories of their great-grandfather and stories of their father as child—and their Nana. And we will all be connected… generation to generation to generation.

Nana’s Rule #9 – Go Outside and Play – doing so allows you to create memories…..the kind that last for a lifetime and possibly longer.


Go Outside and Play..Memories throughout the Years

Magnet Rule #9/jfh on boat/jfh and brother/Nimrod Trailer-Camping/Finding the Belt of Orion/Chris and Grandparents/Chris and Kristin/Magnet Rule #9/jfh and Lauren/Sean