Quilting as play

When I was in school, I often thought to myself, man I think I would actually like this book if I wasn't required to read it!
Lately, I've been in a bit of a funk (hence why I took a week long sewing break!) and I think some of it might be because the majority of the quilting I've been doing is for others - for gifts, for magazine deadlines, for tutorials - projects I feel required to too...and I'm really not doing much of anything "just for fun"! So I decided I need to have some more fun projects in the balance. Not that I won't be doing any of the "projects for a reason" anymore - just that I need a better balance.
I want to get back to quilting for the heck of it. Because I want to. Because it's fun.
For my birthday, I got to spend hours doing any sewing I felt like. It was a blast and I miss it!
Because, despite being an adult, I need playtime :).

Here's an interesting "definition" of play: 1. Play is pleasurable, enjoyable. 2. Play has no extrinsic goals. It is played for itself. 3. Play is spontaneous and voluntary. It is freely chosen by the player. 4. Play involves deep and active engagement on the part of the player(s). 5. Play has systematic relations to what is not play such as creativity, problem solving, language learning, the development of social roles and a number of other cognitive and social phenomena. (I take this to mean that these things may be part of play, but are not in of themselves play.)

For me, pebbling really hits criteria #4 - I get in a zone when I do it! I literally pebbled for hours straight on this quilt, and found it really relaxing and enjoyable.
Sometimes work and play overlap, but we all should have some time of our lives spent in pure play. I encourage you to take some time to examine this list and to see how your quilting journey relates to it, and whether or not you are satisfied. For myself, I was no longer getting enough "play time" because all of my projects lacked criteria #2. Again, I'm not saying that all of your quilting time should follow all of these criteria! But if you're unsatisfied...if things aren't as enjoyable as they used to be...time to evaluate.
I found the above definition in the book The Complete Guide to Godly Play: Volume I. While this book is about playing with your children while teaching them about God, I actually found myself learning a lot and thinking about my own life and the way I spend my time. The book discusses different definitions of play, what isn't play, and "pseudo-play" (things that look like play but aren't).
I think the biggest takeaway for me was the idea that true play generates joy. A person who does not know how to play - or who does not spend enough time playing - must therefore look for sources of joy to feed on. This is why some people often feel great emptiness in their lives; they jump from one activity to another, one person to another, looking for something to provide them with joy quickly and easily. They might find something enjoyable which fills them temporarily, but there is no source within their own life to fill them with joy. It took me awhile to find a hobby that was truly "play" for me. After I got married, and was looking for things to do in the summer (I used to teach), I tried cooking, scrapbooking, cardmaking, cake decorating...nothing stuck for more than a few months. Quilting - when done without any reason - was then only thing I found truly playful.
Although it had tedious parts, the Fire & Ice quilt is definitely the project I found most enjoyable. I absolutely loved flipping open and pressing each piece, seeing the fabrics gradate within each row and change from row to row.
I've gotten away from quilting as play - just working on something for the heck of it. And I need to bring that back into my life. So I'm challenging myself to return to "play" quilt.
Before I end my musings, I thought I'd end with a challenge for you, too. This comes straight from the book:
"In choosing what to do for play, be careful. So many activities that adults choose for their leisure aren't really play but a kind of working at play...It's not easy to define play, but for the purposes of this explanation, choose an activity that feels like wasting time. Then do that activity, and only that activity, for an entire hour."
Make something just because you want to. Because dammit, that's what you feel like doing. And it's fun.
Go spend an hour playing.