True Confession: I play with toys!

Last weekend I spent three days at a life-changing event (& I really mean life-changing) called Radical Leadership. I spent the weekend with 13 other amazing people and learned how to accept and live from the core of who I am – without shame. And that was just one of the golden nuggets I came away with! Since I got home from Minnesota late Tuesday night, I’ve had the most incredible experience with Time Warner’s customer service (strange, I know), the checkout guy at Staples and so many other fun people who crossed my path. And I truly believe it came from me, not them.

One of the coaches at the event, Dr David Mackinnon, sent me a book called Orbiting the Giant Hairball. Instantly I began devouring it. I’m only on Chapter 5, but the most astonishing thing I learned, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise, is that in first grade all kids think they’re creative geniuses. Then by sixth grade it’s almost taboo to call yourself “creative” or “an artist” or frankly, to be a kid. The author Gordon MacKenzie gives several reasons for this, all of which I feel are just plain sad. Why do we have to throw out creativity with the bathwater of disciplining the child?

The answer, I’m afraid, is deeper in the book, so I’m just going to have to read it. 🙂

While pondering what I learned at the retreat, and what I’m reading in this book, I had a discussion with my awesome husband about what made me slip past the barriers society places on kids and stay the creative genius that I am. Despite people telling me, “You’re too old to play with toys” or “That area is for kids under 48 inches tall,” I still slide down the slides and I still play with toys. In fact, my office has an entire corner dedicated to toys. Yet I’m responsible enough to run my own business, and I’m there for my clients to get their books completed on time.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the answers, but I know this one thing. All adults should own – and play with – at least one toy. My personal favorite is Mr. Potato Head. 🙂 Also gracing my office are LEGOs, Slinky, beach balls, bouncy balls, stuffed animals, thinking putty, blocks shaped like castle pieces, Crayola Model Magic, and a few bears from Build-a-Bear. Here are a few photos of my favorites. Enjoy!

The many faces of Mr. Potato Head

Fun with LEGOs!

When people see my office or these pictures, they often make comments like, “You should have kids” or “You must be doing a creative exercise” when the fact is, I don’t have kids (I don’t share well with anyone under 4 feet tall) & most of the time I play for the pure enjoyment of play.

One huge thing I realized after going to the retreat last weekend was I don’t have to make excuses for my play time. Either you’re OK that I play or you’re not. And honestly, I don’t care which opinion you take. I truly believe deep in our cores, we are all still creative geniuses. That creative, powerful part of us has been tempered by society, but I feel it’s time we rise up and embrace our inner children.

I’ll leave you with a favorite quote from Steve Jobs, one of the biggest creative geniuses of my time. And remember as you call someone on your iPhone or write an article on your MacBook that you wouldn’t have those “toys” if Steve Jobs had let his creative spirit be stifled by society.

I implore you – teachers, parents, childcare workers, professors – embrace your inner creative child and encourage children and adults alike that embracing their creative genius is OK, or dare I say amazing? In my opinion, you have the power to change the world, by encouraging everyone around you to be creative – and joining in on the fun yourself!

In what ways are you already creative? Do you have a favorite toy? Can you think of a toy I should add to my collection? Comment below – I’d love to hear about it!!

Photo courtesy Shutterstock, Ekaterina_Minaeva, Editorial Use Only


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  • Jeanne Kolenda
    May 20, 2012

    I love playing with my grandsons (7, 5, 1).  We have an awesome time with their super heroes.  Each morning, they get up, and immediately get “into costume.”  They don’t rely entirely on store-bought things.  They make swords from spatulas, special mitts from coozies, and they love to wear my old motorcycle helmets.  Towels and clothes pins make capes.  They’re homeschooled (not the one year old), and it gives them plenty of time to play hard most of the day.  The thing I love most in my office isn’t really a toy, but it’s a little aquarium with live African Dwarf Frogs.  I love watching them jump and play; they have names, and they are close enough to me, I know they’re watching me as well.  I got them from  Their home office is in Myrtle Beach, and they’re one of my clients.  I’ve bought frogs for everyone!  So between my frogs and my dog (Weimaraner), my office is a comfy place and one I love.  Might need to think of getting some toys…

  • Doug
    May 15, 2012

    Oh, No! Where’s the Kindle version? Sounds like a great book.

    • Kristen Eckstein
      May 15, 2012 Doug

      The Kindle version of what, Doug? Orbiting the Giant Hairball? It’s not available in Kindle. The design of the book doesn’t work in Kindle version & much of what he talks about needs the design to make sense & enhance it. Ya just have to see the hardcover to know what I mean. 🙂

  • Paula
    May 12, 2012

    Crayons, markers, big paper, scissors, paste, watercolors, Sculpy…dolls, owl puppets and figures…but I definitely need more.  Actually, I used to love playing with paper dolls…do they even make those any more? And hubby and I used to have a house full of Legos because of three sons…maybe I should get my own.

    Great post, Kristen.

    • keckstein
      May 12, 2012 Paula

       Paula – Your play environment sounds awesome! And absolutely you should get your own LEGOs! I have some vintage paper dolls. Haven’t seen them around for a long time, so I’m not sure they even make those anymore. Sad, those were fun. Like Barbie but more portable. 🙂