“Hi girl! I have a REALLY BAD idea! Are you in?”

I turned 39 years old yesterday. For most of my 30s I would make resolutions each year to eat better; lose weight, save money, follow a budget and other adult-like stuff. After all, with each year lived I SHOULD be getting more and more responsible, right?

Truth be told, I felt like my life has been filled with too many shoulds. This year, I’m taking a new direction.

Not waiting until my 4th decade of life, I figure 39 is a pretty good year to make my priority getting back to basics. By creating space for what I think life is really all about, not just what I think I should be doing as a nearly-forty-year old. In my 39th year, my intentions are:

  • Spend more time wandering in nature
  • Prioritize non-scheduled play time
  • Release commitments that I don’t truly enjoy
  • Work less, and
  • Play more. Okay, let’s get real. PLAY A LOT.

So, about a month ago, in attempt of playing more, I booked a last-minute vacation to the Caribbean with my best friend from high school. You see, my favorite band was playing at a five-day Caribbean music festival and I felt the world might end if I didn’t go. I begged my husband, Nick, to attend with me, but we just didn’t have the money. And he didn’t have the time off work. Also, we just didn’t have the money (did I say that already?). All signs were pointed clearly in the direction of, “Melissa, this is a terrible idea, not practical and please just forget about it.”

While I tried with all my might to push this terrible idea out of my mind, my heart kept coming back to it. Why in the world couldn’t I let this go? I asked several friends if they were interested in attending, but having too many prior commitments (like young children), lack of available funding, and overall inability to make an impromptu decision, I was left thinking that this wasn’t happening for me.

A week before the event, I called Teresa (mother of 3 children under 6 and full-time toxicologist) pitching her the idea. Being the world-class badass she is, she was IN after no convincing at all! Before I could even think about hesitating we booked the trip. I started daydreaming about how fabulous it would be to sit on the beach with Teresa, sipping cold drinks and playing in the ocean. I felt terribly excited, and also like I had just done something wrong. Friends and family were shocked that we could make such a big decision last-minute. Even I began second guessing my decision. One friend even suggested I was having a “mid-life crisis.”

This epic trip, with my wonderful soul sister, ended up being just what I needed. We laughed our way pretty much through each day, joking at the absurdity and craziness of midlife. As we floated down the lazy river at the resort, we made a pact to never let ourselves get to “grow up” to turn down a once in a life time opportunity like this.

What was the point of working full time, raising children, and being responsible adults if we didn’t also make time to play?

What was the point of saving money if we didn’t use it for our own enjoyment?

While outwardly this trip wasn’t “practical,” I will always remember this vacation as the reminder I needed to further claim my own freedom, happiness, and play. If anything, this experience has stoked my inner desire for more fun, playfulness and freedom.

Let’s be honest: you don’t have to travel to far off places to have fun, nor do you have to spend any money at all. Prioritizing play and fun in everyday life is not only possible, it is the medicine that most “adults” need right now. Can you imagine going to the doctor and instead of getting a prescription for an anti-depressant you got a prescription for including more free-time in your life? Reclaiming the freedom and expansion of your inner child is possible, and may just be the key for becoming the most expansive and playful version of yourself!