how to love your life's path
greet yourself with love

growing up is optional


"Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional."

Chili Davis


I don't know if I embraced my childhood as well as I could have. I was a bit uptight. I was a bit on edge. I wasn't really willing to let go and just have fun the way other kids were. But just because I'm a grown up (sort of) doesn't mean I can't have fun the way a kid might. This week I'm going to do what I can to celebrate the things I loved as a child. Today I'm going to think back to those (almost) carefree summer days as a kid and figure out exactly what it was that I loved to do -- and then I'm going to find ways to incorporate that joyful, childlike sense of fun into my grown up life. So, what did I like to do as a kid?


Coloring: As a kid, two of my favorite things to do were reading and writing (yes, I was a huge nerd) and do a lot of those things still as an adult, but I also loved drawing and coloring something I don't do nearly enough of these days. When I was living out in California, I used to have a sketch book and I would spend hours and hours in front of the TV with a plethora of markers, just drawing and doodling. It's been forever since I've done that and I think it would be a great thing to take up again. I used to think of it as sort of a calming therapy (though, looking back at it now some of those angry and sad images were far from calming!). While I probably won't dabble in the coloring books of my youth (My Little Pony! Disney Princesses!), I'm pretty sure I could easily get back into drawing and art like I was in college.

Fort Building:
When I was a kid, I actually liked to be outside some of the time (unlike the adult me who would much prefer to be inside unless a suntan and a pool are involved). I had a best friend who enjoyed building forts with me. I was lucky enough to have a great backyard (not big, but big enough) in which I had two perfect areas for creating forts. Okay, let's be serious -- I'm not going to go around creating forts as an adult, but I can think of my new apartment as my little fort. Soon I'll be moving and I can use that time to create a lovely little space of home for myself.

One of my favorite things to do as a child was write in my journal. I had all of these beautiful (locked!) journals that held all of my deepest thoughts. Lately, especially since I've started blogging, I've sort of let the journaling go. I need to think back to how much I loved it as a child -- how much pleasure I took in writing everything down, reflecting on my day -- and get back into it. There is something completely refreshing and liberating about writing down how you feel and knowing that no one will ever read those words. And, even more important, is having the journals to go back to. I love looking back at them now, seeing glimpses of my younger self, and I'm sure I'll feel the same way in my future.

When I was really young I used to love playing with dolls, with toys. Though I do have the wonderful privilege of playing with Bella and her toys and I guess, in a way, things like iPods and Kindles are toys, but do I really do that much playing these days? Am I really all that playful? (Or, better question, was I really even that playful ever?) I think this is an area of my life that I could definitely improve on and I think a lot of other adults are probably in the same boat on this one. Think about it: do adults really play all that much? I'm going to work on playing more. I have a feeling it'll be a great happiness booster.

I used to love to swim. I used to dread the moment when the whistle would blow and the lifeguard (who I was secretly in love with) would yell out, "Adult swim!" I hated being told I had to get out of the pool and I couldn't wait until the day I was old enough to be considered an adult. Now I spend hours by the pool, not even dipping a toe in the water. Yesterday, my good friend Abbey asked me, "Do you ever go in the water?" I wrinkled my nose and said, "No. Never." But why? I used to love swimming. I used to love the feeling of moving freely underwater, holding my breath and playing silly games with friends. Next time I go to the pool I'm going to go in the water. I'm going to swim and see if I like it as much as I did when I was a kid.


Obviously there are many, many things I did as a kid that I don't do anymore, but I think the ones I've mentioned above are things I could pretty easily incorporate into my life now and I think all of them will have positive benefits. So what about you? Have you thought back to your younger self and considered what you might have loved to do then that you no longer do now? Have you thought about why you don't do it? If you would still like to? I bet we'd all learn a lot about ourselves if we thought about what we did as kids and how different that is from what we do now. In my case, I'd say that reading and writing were the biggest time consumers of my childhood and they're still the things I spend most of my time doing. However, that's not the case for everyone. Give it some thought. You might be surprised at what you remember. You might even find some ways to bring that childhood self back into your life.

What did you love to do as a child?
Do you still do those things? If not, why not?


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"For one so young, you seem so old..." ~Phil Collins.

Oh, Dani, Dani, Dani. Time for me to give you the happiness lesson. Yes, yes, YES!. Do ALL of these things. Right now! Or at least as soon as possible. I just about can't imagine life without coloring in coloring books, swimming, and playing. I was never really into journaling (I know, it's a surprise to me, too) or building forts, but I made a lifetime out of doing the other three. And I still do them whenever I can.

Few things bring me more happiness than swimming and playing in the water. And coloring, I do that every chance I get. My mom always used to color with me, and when my daughter was younger, I used to color with her a lot, too. Now, whenever I spend time with anybody's kid, I always ask if we can color. It really is very zen-esque in it's ability to calm the body and quiet the mind.

Being grown up is highly over-rated. I *don't* recommend it to anyone!

I find cool kids to chill with -

Since they just are, they give great insights and you get to mentor while they love you unconditionally, as you can in return.

Plus there's the whole pretending to be nine thing.

Great reminder. Stay young to be happy. I stopped doing two of my passions, writing poems and drawing. Now at age 36 I am picking it up again wishing I would have never stopped. So stay as young as you can for as long as you want.

Teia Hassey aka VinaMist

A friend and I, when we were in our 40's, decided to have a "little girls day out", just the two of us. We went to an I. Q. Zoo where chickens counted and parrots shot fake cannons at the audience. We went to Tiny Town which is a miniature panorama of a town with running trains and hot air balloons, etc. We went to a children's movie and laughed until we cried. How did we dress? With our hair in pig tails and shorts with tee shirts and tennis shoes. We ate lots of things that we shouldn't. We had a ball being little girls again. I didn't get to do much of that when I was a child. Thanks for reminding me of that day.

I still do many of the things I loved to do as a kid - reading, writing, singing... My daughter has taken to many of my old favorites - dressing up, dancing and fort building. She allows me the chance to be a kid again - singing out loud and dancing whenever possible - to include street corners waiting for lights or parking lots. There is so much joy is allowing myself to do some kid things... or just play kid again if only for a few moments.

Ah, being a kid. I remember it like it was yesterday. I would watch Fox Kids on TV, draw dinosaurs all the time, and were my uniform to catholic school. I repeatedly anticipated "Dress Down Day" at school. Those were the days.

I was shy, but very friendly and me and my friends always stuck together through thick and thin.

Now everything's changed. Of course I have new friends, but all the past times I had have been substituted by responsibility.

I loved my childhood, but I love the way my life is now. I don't regret the past, only what I have not yet done.

I was one of the lucky ones. I had the greatest childhood. We grew up on a farm and spent our days riding horses, hanging out with dogs and various animals, building cubby houses (ie forts), making mud pies, drawing, writing and building rafts to take out on our dam. It really was the best of times.

Interestingly, I find if you look back to what you naturally did as a kid, you generally uncover your passions and what you really love in life. It's no coincidence I love the outdoors, still have an obsession with horses and dogs and spend my days writing!

By the way, I can recommend handstands. If they don't make you feel like a child, nothing will! ;)

Jay - Thanks for your wonderful comment (and the great Collins quote)! You're so right in saying that I need to start doing these things right now. Coloring is definitely zen-esque and swimming can be too. I'm going to do my best to incorporate all of these into my life again because, as you said, being grown up is highly overrated!

Nicole - You're so right. Kids have a totally different perspective on life that's usually very innocent. We can learn a lot from spending time with them and considering the things they enjoy doing.

Teia - Great point! Staying young is so important and it's also so important to keep doing the things we loved doing in the past. I'm planning on taking up some of my favorite things again and I'm really looking forward to it!

Patricia - That day sounds wonderful! What a fun idea! I'd love to get together with my friends and do something like that -- just indulging in all of the childhood things I didn't really do as much of as a child. Great idea. Thanks for sharing it.

The Exception - You're right. It's such a joy to play as a kid again and that's one of the great things about having a kid in your life -- they remind you how to do it. I don't spend much time with children so I have to remind myself but singing and dancing are two great, childlike things to do. :)

John - Ah, I remember the days at school when I didn't have to wear my uniform too. Those were the best! While I most certainly wouldn't want to go back to my childhood, there are things I miss doing and I'm looking forward to trying to incorporate them into my life now.

Sami - Sounds like a great place to grow up! You're so right about going back to your childhood to uncover your true passions. Writing and reading (and dogs!) were so important to me back then and they still are today. Oh, I'm so going to try to do a handstand now. How fun!

I totally agree with you on this one! I'm glad you're able to bring out your inner child as you write about this topic. As a kid, everything was fun, adventurous, and exciting. We lived with the "Hakuna Matata" mindset.

As we grow up, we deal with the loss of innocence and we accept great risks and responsibilities. The secret to eternal youth is really just plain curiosity. When we embark on journeys to new unfamiliar places or try various new things, that's when we'll have fun and feel young again! That's why I don't believe in doing the same routine and keeping yourself stuck in a bubble. You have to slowly introduce changes into your life. Sometimes it means re-allocating your time to get rid of old routines to make room for new ones.

If something really fascinates you and you have the urge to undertake the activity, I recommend you strive to achieve it! Most people spend the first half of the life saying, "I'm too young for this stuff"; and the second half of their life saying, "i'm too old for that stuff." As a kid, we try so hard to be adults and attempt to do adult things. Now as adults, we try so hard to relive our youth again. It's ironic! I definitely agree with it though. There's no point in living a life that's a never ending cycle of regular routines.

I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing! Everyone should release your inner child at times! (=

While we do mature (well...hopefully), that doesn't mean we can't still keep the kid within us alive. I love it!

And I'll share something I did a couple of weeks ago - that was maybe a bit immature (maybe) and was definitely playing. Do you ever remember giving other people bunny ears with your fingers, to make others laugh? Well, I do this semi-regularly to my kids. The other day, though, I took it "outside the family". We were at a restaurant, and there was a table right behind us full of people. They were going to have the waitress take a picture of their whole group. At this same time, I was getting up to get another glass of water. And just as the waitress was about to take the picture, I gave her bunny ears. Of course, she didn't know, but all the people at the table, well - their smiles got bigger and a few started laughing. I don't know, maybe the picture didn't turn out the way they thought it would...but I like to think that it turned out even better - with bigger smiles! And my family, whom I was with, also couldn't believe I did this. And that really did get me thinking - do I let my playful side out enough?

So, Dani - I say go for it! In big ways. In small ways. In any way that makes your heart sing. And maybe not everything you do will still resonate with you today - and that's okay. You'll have tried, you'll have let out that kid in you, and that's pretty cool.

I come here and am drawn in by the positivity I feel, and by your honest and heartfelt writing. Today that really does ring true...

Be you, Dani! Including the kid-like wonderment that's within...

I must admit that I love Lance's random humor. It's always fun to be spontaneous!

Thanks for sharing Lance and Dani! It's like what I always tell the shy and nervous people: "Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Yourself!" I think that kind of relates to what we're talking about.

You guys have both definitely made me think about something different for a change! Enjoy the rest of the weekend! I hope to check back for awesome comments and amazing posts by Dani! ;)

Taney - Thank you for your wonderful comment! You're so right about the connection between childhood and curiosity. As adults we need to work on exploring things that interest us and expanding on new experiences. I also really found what you said about being "too old" vs. being "too young" so interesting. How true that is! We spend so much time on one side or another when really we should be working to experience new and exciting things. I really enjoyed Lance's comment as well and I truly believe that being ourselves is one of the things we need to remember as adults. Just think about how free little kids are with their true personalities. We need to remember that even though we're grown ups.

Lance - Thanks for sharing that great story about the bunny ears! I love it! It's a great example of being young and childlike and I think that's something we should all embrace more of. I'm sure you made that picture so much better by doing what you did. Silliness is always fun! Thanks for your great support of Positively Present. I'm really working hard to make my life a more postitive place and I'm so glad I can share my ideas with readers like you.

Dani, I love this. I think there is something to looking back to what you enjoyed as a kid when you were free to be you. Part of that you is still there. You will never regret journaling and having that record to look back upon. As far as playing, I do goofball things a lot and I don't care what anybody thinks. I have fun with them.

Hi Dani,

Kids can teach us so much as they're so uninhibited. If only we stayed that way, hey?

As a kid I used to love to play outside, catch bugs and get dirty. Although I'm not into catching bugs anymore, I still enjoy gardening and getting my hands dirty.

Hi Dani. I did all the same things as you except for the swimming. I never learned how. I had to laugh as I couldn't help but imagine you building forts as an adult. We would build forts with bales of hay in the summer and snow in the winter. We built a snow fort once that had two rooms, some windows and even a table and a bed. My adult self still goes swinging; something else I used to love to do as a child.

I haven't gone swimming in forever. I grew up on a lake so I miss it. As much as I like swimming, there's something unsavory about public pools.

Forts are great. Especially tree forts.

Hi dani,
I Loved this post. It really brought out memories of childhood days spent being oh so naughty....
By the way...i am a mom now...but i still love cartoons, chocolates, running around the garden, and playing weird little games with my little one. And i must thank my little daughter for bringing out the kid in me again.
Often when i am my naughty self hubby will comment:will u ever grow up..(very playfully though)...and i will reply never.
I often tell him that i refuse to mentally grow up...i prefer retaining a little bit i my childish traits so that i can enjoy and still be amazed at the finer intricacies of life. I hope i can play fun games with my grandchildren too....god willing and i hope they think of me as their Oh so "happening grandma" when the day comes..instead of an old grumpy woman....:)

my dad was a Marine. when he was home during my kiddom, we'd start every day at 5am - eating Grapenuts and telling each other about the miracles we'd seen the day before. was yearssssssssssss before i found out that everyone didn't start their day like that.
i still look for miracles every day and TRY to like Grapenuts.

thanks for the memory, Dani.

Oh my gosh, Dani... I think we may have been separated at birth! Uptight as a kid ("check!"); tough time being silly as an adult ("check!"). I loved your list, and replicated a couple of them when I was a kid, too. The coloring and fort building ones, in particular. I used to make sheet forts inside, though, using my bed and dressers, and then sleep in the forts until I was bored with them. It was so much fun! And I had the most active imagination, so I'd just slip away into another world when I played (often by myself, since I liked a lot of alone time).

When I did hang out with my best friend, we'd ride our bikes outside all over the neighborhood, pretending they were motorcycles and that we were PIs chasing bad guys. Such fun!

Thanks for letting me step back into childhood for a few minutes, and helping remind me that I told myself I'd become sillier one of these days!

Stephen - You're so right that part of your childhood is always with you. I really enjoy looking back on my journals from when I was a kid which is why I really should keep them now. I have a feeling my older self will look back and think I was just a kid now! That's great that you still do silly things. Life's too short to be serious all the time!

Barbara - If only! How different the world would be! I also used to play outside getting much more dirty than I do now. Though I no longer catch bugs (fireflies) either, I still really enjoy watching the fireflies light up in the summer nights.

Davina - Oh, if you only knew me in person you'd be laughing even harder at the idea of me playing in a fort. I'm a pretty indoor girl these days! A snow fort sounds awesome -- and the one you made sounds like it could have been an igloo! I loved (still love) swinging too so that's a great one for me to do. I should go to the park more and hop on the swings. Thanks for reminding me of that!

J.D. - I agree with you on that one. I think that's probably one of the reasons I don't go swimming as much. My child self wasn't as worried about the filth of public pools as my adult self is! Tree forts sound awesome. I never had one of those!

Zeenat - So glad you liked it! :) I think kids bring out the kid in all of us, which is pretty awesome. It's fun not to grow up. As the quote says, we grow old but we don't have grow up! It sounds like you're going to be a very happenin' grandma with the attitude you have! :)

Lisa - You're welcome! I loved hearing the story about you and your dad. What a great way to start the day -- with miracles and cereal! :) Even if you don't eat the cereal anymore, thinking about the miracles you've seen is a GREAT way to get any day started.

Megan - Sounds like we were separated at birth for sure! I used to ride bikes too and I totally forgot about that one. It was one of my favorite things to do and I can't remember the last time I was on a bike. Thanks for reminding me of that and I'm glad that I could trigger some memories for you too. :)

What a delightful post! You know that child in us doesn't "go" anywhere, he/she is still present - its just all the "grown up" behaviors and rules that stifle the child. This post is a gentle reminder of that and boy we seem to need that! I taught journaling classes for years and one of the exercises we did was exactly this! Make a list of your favorite activities from childhood and do them! I was hooked on coloring books as a child and when I did this exercise I started painting. Haven't stopped - I love it! Again, great post!

Suzen - You're so right. The child me is still in there, I just have to coax her to come out and play! :) I'm definitely planning on taking up some of these activities from my childhood. I think I'll really enjoy them once I let myself do them again.

This was another fun, light post that was a joy to wake up to this morning. Yay! I still love coloring, believe it or not, and keep a stash of coloring books and markers and crayons around for rainy days (which is when the urge to color usually still seizes me). I'm lucky, I guess, because, as a teacher who teaches young kids, I still get the opportunity to create and play games and organize crafts that involve scissors and glue. We even play Hangman!

One thing I don't still do is climb trees. When I was a kid, I'd shimmy up as high as I could go and just kind of hide out and watch the world below. I would love to do this now but comfort myself instead with big, long nature walks. Nature still soothes me.

p.s. AMUSEMENT PARKS!!! Forgot to mention those, and I STILL love going. :)

Oooh another good post. My friends and I are edging on 30 and you would laugh at the stuff we still do. This year so far it was ghost hunting and ouija boards at midnight, tubing down the river, 80's themed birthday party for my friend, chick flick slumber party at my house, a hat trying on expedition...We always try to remember that just because you're older, doesn't mean you have to act like it! Oh and my husband is a very patient man ;)

You are totally right. The kid in us is still in there, and it's a happier, healthier, and more fun version of ourselves. I start every day planning to be a kid. The hard part is still feeling that way after a long day at work. Maybe we should build some playgrounds around the office and have recess after lunch!

Chania Girl - It sounds like you're really in touch with your childhood self (probably one of the perks of being around kids a lot). I think coloring books are wonderful and perhaps I should dabble in them again. I'm not so sure about amusement parks though...I'd be much more comfortable with a nature walk than a roller coaster! :)

Shannanigans - Those are wonderful ideas! It sounds like you and your friends are having a lot of fun and embracing your inner children. It's so great that you have friends like that (and a husband who tolerates the silliness!).

Health Unchained - You're so right about how it's hard to be silly and kid-like after a long day at work. I guess we need to make the most of our lunch breaks and our weekends! :)

Hi Dani,

I was a young parent and am now a young grandparent. This has kept me young! I still run, rollerblade, do road races, listen to "young music," paint, play hide and go seek, and all kinds of silly stuff.

Doing these things keeps one young at heart. It's also brings a light heartedness to those like me who are at times too intense.

Love this.

My two best friends and I make regular sleep-over nights, complete with junk food, toenail polish, Tiger Beat (yes!), sappy movies, and boy crazy talk (I'm divorced, one friend is married with a baby, and the other is getting married in September).

Dress up is fun, too. You can play it old school, but if you want to modify it for your adult life, get gussied up and go to a swank martini bar with your girls. If you're lucky, you could talk your beau into dressing up too!

Be silly. That means singing along at the top of your lungs, making up languages, making funny faces at people - you name it. Be silly as the moments arise!


I always say that growing up is okay, but being an adult is not. :D The smiling cereal photo made me giggle.

I know you mentioned the coloring thing, but when is the last time we just sat and DOODLED. (Give ourselves permission to do something totally random and unplanned and whatever.)

P.S. My underwater mp3 players makes swimming like the awesomest activity ever. I'm' just saying!

I LOVE this post! Funny you should mention these things as I am just now getting back into drawing and journaling and loving it. :) I think all the things you point out are amazing and each and every one of us needs to tap into our inner child. Thanks Dani!

Tess - How nice that you've had the experience of being both a young parent and a young grandparent! It sounds like you enjoy a lot of things that help you to stay young at heart, which is something we should all do more of.

Veronica - I love the idea of having sleepovers (all of the things you mentioned sound so fun!) and you've brought up the idea of dressing up which is awesome. You can do a silly dress up or a fancy, adult dress up. Either would be a lot of fun! Being silly is one of the easiest things we can do to recapture childhood and it's a lot of fun!

Meream - Being an adult is boring most of the time! I'm glad you liked the picture. When I first saw it I loved it!

Hayden - Doodling is awesome. I do it sometimes when I'm in meetings but not nearly as much as I used to when I was a kid. I should incorporate more of it into my life because I love it! An underwater mp3 player sounds AWESOME. You know I'd love to swim if I had one of those!

Dayne - So glad you loved it! :) And that's great that you're getting back into drawing and journaling. They are both awesome and such great ways for us to release our emotions in a productive way.

I still do a lot of things that I did as a kid. I like swimming, boating, walking barefoot on the beach, playing with the dogs, drawing, reading and hanging out. I hope that I don't lose that playful side that seems to keep me young at heart.

Syd - It sounds like you continue to do a lot of things you loved as a child, which will definitely help you to stay young and playful at heart! :)

Great post Dani. It really is amazing how many simple chilldhood activities that bring joy to our life that we let go of as we become adults. I used to love Legos as a kid and have contemplated buying some legos and building some interesting things.

Srinivas - Oh, I used to love Legos too! I wonder if would be completely unacceptable for me to go buy some and play with them again...Hahaha.

Hi Dani,
We forget how much fun playing is! Psychologists say playing is how children learn to live as adults. They're wrong; playing is how children learn to play as adults.

A great, fun article! Thanks.

Kaushik - So glad you enjoyed it! :) Playing is one of the greatest things we can do. It seems like it's harder to do as an adult, but really there are so many opportunities to play if we just open our eyes and look around!

I always have been and always will be a 'kid' at heart. It's what keeps me happy.. and what keeps me sane! :)

Sean - Thanks for commenting! I'd love to say I'm a kid at heart but it's something I have to work on A LOT, but I'm getting better at it every day! :)

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