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It's time to get to know yourself again. You’re never more you than when you play. Learn how the power of play can transform your perspective on life, deepen your relationships and improve your mental health.

It's time to get to know yourself again. You’re never more you than when you play. Learn how the power of play can transform your perspective on life, deepen your relationships and improve your mental health.
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It's time to get to know yourself again. You’re never more you than when you play. Learn how the power of play can transform your perspective on life, deepen your relationships and improve your mental health.








Slack or Snap? It's Up to You

The very idea that play is important is a hard sell - especially for stressed-out grownups with responsibilities and long to-do lists. But if we don’t cut ourselves some slack, we’re setting ourselves up for a fall.


Everyday Adventures: Learning to Love the Unknown

When I’m burned out, the last word I want to hear is adventure. But thanks to Stacey Newman Weldon of Adventure Wednesdays, I learned that adventures don’t have to be over-complicated vacations. Adventures can start small, stimulate our creativity, keep our minds sharp and our hearts full.


Surprised By Joy

In a mental health crisis, play is a vitally important part of our healing process. So why can it be so hard to give ourselves permission actually do it? Join Kara for an exploration of the things that get in the way of play and our pursuit of joy.


PGP 41 - Six Steps Toward Building Your Play Practice

In this episode, I (Kara Fortier, you know, the host) will talk about how I finally became an adult who plays. A playful mindset came so easily to us as children, but we adults build up lots of roadblocks keeping us from it. Incorporating play has been a process. It wasn’t as easy as just deciding to “do” play. I’ve spent some time reflecting on the stages I went through that finally got me here. I can now say that not only do I understand how important play is, I’m experiencing the power...


Can I Play? The State of PE and Play in America's Schools

With all of this talk about kids and play, it's about time we hear from an educator here on the PlayGrounding Podcast. Doug Smith has been a physical education teacher for nineteen years. In this episode, we discuss the state of physical education in schools today such as the focus on testing and how many states are losing PE classes altogether. But don't worry, we talk about the fun stuff too, such as the importance of playgrounds that fire kids' imaginations. He helped to build a...


No Excuses: Choosing Health & Playing for Your Life

This is a deeply personal episode for me, Kara, the host of PlayGrounding. This is the second part of my conversation with Sabrina Must. Last week, we explored the role of playfulness in facing and handling grief. Sabrina and I kept talking on the day of our interview and we went in a completely different direction, but with the same sense of vulnerability and depth. In this episode, you'll hear the second part of my conversation with Sabrina Must - this time about health and fitness. After...


Play in the Depths: A Playful Heart Meets Grief

It might seem counterintuitive to have a conversation about play and grief. We often associate play with frivolity, silliness and escape. But what we learn from this conversation with Sabrina Must is that a playful approach to life can take us deeper and more in touch with who we really are, even in periods of deep grief and loss. Sabrina’s book, Must Girls Love, is her memoir on the suicide death of her sister. This episode goes deep and for some, it might touch on aspects of life and...


Playful Problem Solving - The Power of Puzzles

Puzzles are powerful. Have you ever had a hard time putting worries aside - blocking out your to-do list and experiencing a moment of real focus in a no-stakes, playful situation? Try a puzzle. I’m not just talking about sitting with a puzzle on paper or your smart phone. I’m talking about escape rooms and city-wide puzzle hunts. Solving puzzles alone or together is practice for when the stakes are high and we need to come up with new creative solutions to difficult problems. You’ll learn...


The Trickster Consciousness in a Polarized World with Shepherd Siegel

Dada, the Beats and the Hippies - what do they all have in common? The way they played was a problem for the authorities, for the people in power trying to instill black and white order on the world. This week on Playgrounding we’ll be talking to Shepherd Siegel, an educator and author whose work explores disruptive play and protest. We’ll explore the role of the trickster as passed down to us through mythology from many diverse cultures, then learn about cultural movements led by pranksters...


PGP 35: Playing to Win at Any Age

Some people train for a sport from the time they’re very young and become elite. Some people don’t even begin to get active until much later in life but become high level competitors. This week’s guest is here to remind us to never underestimate what we can accomplish regardless of age, even those of us who’ve spent most of our lives as couch potatoes. Our guest this week is Fitness Trainer and Coach Robin Legat, host of the Seasoned Athlete podcast. It’s your home for stories, inspiration,...


PGP 34: Is a Lack of Free Play Endangering our Democracy?

Free play, also known as child-directed play, is becoming more and more restricted for American kids. We’ve talked on PlayGrounding many times about the importance of free play, how it’s where many children first encounter risk and freedom. It’s where they first begin to encounter “otherness,” where they find ways to work together with kids of various ages and backgrounds in an undefined arena. Play helps us cope in the realm of personal relationships, helps us develop innovative minds and...


PGP 33: Dealing with Shame on the Road Back to Exercise & Play with JJ Kovacevich

Do you remember what it was like to be a child at the playground? When you first arrive and see the equipment, the sand, the grass? I remember that feeling well – the desire to jump, crawl, run, do summer saults and cartwheels. But somewhere along the line, that feeling began to fade. For many of us, our enthusiasm for physical play went out with our teddy bears and blankies. I think many adults have these memories and, dare I say, even the desire to be able to play that way again, but...


PGP 32: Can Fitness Really be Fun?

Fitness fun? For most of my life, I would have answered NO WAY to that question. It’s the one challenge I’ve had to my belief that whatever is true about play for children is also true for adults. Children play very differently from adults. They play with their whole selves, their imaginations, their creativity and especially their bodies. Physical play comes naturally to children. They run and jump, swing, slide, do cartwheels. We talk a big game here on PlayGrounding about adults and...


PGP 31: Innovation Requires Play w/Tricia Edwards of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center

Did you ever stop to think that you have what it takes to be an inventor? If you’re a human being, you are by your very nature an innate problem solver and creative thinker. The question is, are you tapping into that potential? Tricia Edwards wants to change the stereotype of WHO invents and invite us all to BE inventive. Her work not only demystifies invention, she reminds us that the next great invention can come from any one of us, from a single mom in the midwest, to a third-grader...


PGP 30: Bringing Back Free Play - Trusting Kids to Choose & Create Their Own Fun

For some of us adults, the kind of play we remember as kids doesn’t exist anymore in many communities across America. It’s a specific kind of play called “free play.” When I was a kid, I remember running out into the neighborhood after school. I organically discovered and teamed up with the kids that lived nearby even if they were older or younger than me, girls or boys. We came together to play, to find things and make stuff. We had fights and made up. We made up games, put on performances,...


PGP 29: The Rat Park Study: Addiction, Isolation & Humanity's Urgent Need to Connect & Play

Lack of play is a serious problem for us humans. Play geeks like me call it “play suppression.” In the worst cases, studies have shown that children who are kept from playing by their parents tend to have a hard time learning to relate to others and deal with their violent tendencies, leading to some of history’s saddest violent acts. Even those of us who did play as children but gave it up in adulthood suffer the effects of play suppression. One study that has sparked my interest in...


PGP 28: Play or Work? Rediscovering Joy in our Passion Projects

Have you ever started a passion project only to find it suddenly feels like work? And not the fulfilling kind of work either – just plain, to-do list work. It’s not easy to rediscover the spark that led you to start your project, but one way to achieve that is to revisit the reasons we got started in the first place. Maybe you’ve changed and grown? If the project hasn’t grown with you, maybe it’s not the right project for you anymore? Or maybe our discomfort with it is a growing pain – maybe...


PGP 27: Unsupervised Shop Class for the Rest of Your Life w/Artist Bruce Gray

He hasn’t been on vacation in years, but if he did, he’d miss what he does every day too much. There’s still so much to create. Bruce Gray is a prolific artist whose work has been exhibited worldwide, has appeared in over 45 books and countless times on television, in movies, and in the press. And yes, that was his magnetic sculpture you saw in Doctor Evil’s lair from the movie, Austin Powers (One of my personal favorites). Being in his shop is like a trip down the rabbit hole with giant...


PGP 26: Performing Your World – How Imaginative Play Helps Us Grownups Get Unstuck

Kids love to play make-believe. When we talk about bringing back play as adults, this one seems like a stretch. Adults don’t play make believe, do we? Grownups don’t get together and announce that today we’re going to play Star Wars and you get to be Luke. Or do they? This week’s guest reminds us that the imaginative play that we engaged in as children gave us access to tools we can use throughout our entire lives. Imaginative play provides us with the opportunity to be agile and creative in...


PGP 25: The Robot Petting Zoo & Other Playful Innovations in Disaster Recovery

We know that a playful approach to life can lead to better innovations, cooperation and even transform lives. But what about when disaster strikes? Does play still have a role? Desiree Matel-Anderson has proof that play is vitally important even when facing harrowing situations like floods, tornadoes and other types of crises. In this interview, she shares how a Robot Petting Zoo helped the unaccompanied minors stranded in Texas border towns during the youth border crisis in 2013 – 2015....