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The Ball: Extraordinary Invention of Human Happiness

On Sunday afternoon walking across Sunset Park after my daily swim at the pool, my attention was drawn to the various ball games played by tens of people of all ages. Volleyball, soccer, baseball, basketball...many players were having fun throwing, catching, bouncing, hitting (and whiffing) balls.

Then I saw a two-year-old boy who was chasing a ball twice his size and laughing out loud as he precariously wobbled on his little legs trying to kick it. My eyes locked on his big blue ball and I asked myself, “Why do we love games that involve a ball?” Is our playful relationship with things such as balls an integral part of what makes us human?

So I searched online about ball games and their origins. I got excited when I found a book written by John Fox called The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game . In an interview with CNN, Fox says, “We think of playing sports as having obvious physical rewards, but I learned that play is a way that we develop knowledge and cognitive skills about the world. The importance of playing ball for our ability in becoming intelligent, sentient beings is as important as any physical benefits.” He says that playing ball may appear to be purposeless, but that it has an evolutionary importance. “Once they stood on their hind legs, early hominids likely threw round rocks to kill prey, perhaps leading to the subsequent complexity of our left brains. The ability to throw an accurate fast ball could be a spark that set in motion the development of language, tool use and much more,” Fox observes.

On July 27, the Olympics Games start. To the delight of billions, the ubiquitous ball will be thrown, kicked, punched, slapped and struck. I agree with journalist Will Blythe when he describes the ball as an “extraordinary invention of human happiness.”

To celebrate human ingenuity and playfulness, would you and your friends like to join our sunset Revolutionary Beach Volleyball Game this Thursday night at 7pm on Pier 25? You can book your spot here. It will be fun. Les Marie Antoinettes will try to beat last year’s winning team Les Miserables.

Allons-les Souris! Bump! Set! Spike! GO MICE!

Jul 10, 2012

by Nadia

Interview with Barbara Brannen, author of "The Gift Of Play"

With the rebellious days of 4th of July and Bastille Day (le 14 juillet) coming up, we at Mice at Play think that it is the ideal time for women to take some liberties! Seek your independence (and escape) by breaking away from our many obligations and responsibilities and the usual feeling of guilt that comes with taking some time for yourself.

We’ve just interviewed Barbara Brannen, national speaker and author of  “The Gift of Play: Why Adult Women Stop Playing and How to Start Again” to help you understand the importance of Play and how to get more of it. We hope that it will inspire you to ignite a change in your life, and create your own play revolution.

Mice at Play:  What brought you to write a book about women and play?

Barbara Brannen: Writing this book came from two desires. First, it was for me to explain to myself how letting go of play was such a mistake in my life. I used the book to sort of talk to myself about what I knew needed to change, what I used to do for play and to make sure I kept doing it. Second, to give other women the gift of my experience so they would not suffer the same result.

MaP: Why is it important for women to play?

Brannen: Play is a gift that is given to us at birth and stays in our tool kit for life every day until the day we die. (I can prove that last part with the story of my dying uncle’s last three weeks in life when I sat by his bedside and watched him play to the final minute.) If we set this gift on the shelf, it is like deciding not to breathe. Deciding not to put fresh air in our lungs.  Not putting play into our lives deprives the heart, the mind, and the soul of the many gifts of play and deprives us of the beauty of being who we are.  [It deprives us of] knowing the heart of who we are and enjoying who we are. (Remember the quote, “In our play we reveal who we really are,” by Ovid.)

 
MaP: What are the benefits of Play?

Brannen:

·      Energy: play gives us energy.

·      Movement:  Tony Robbins always says, “The emotion is in the motion.” It gets us moving.

·      Joy: when we play we are bringing joy into our lives.

·      Clear Thinking: play allows the brain a break and so allows clarity around things in our lives to come in.

·      Curiosity: we get to poke and probe and look at different aspects of things, life, OURSELVES!

·      No Worry: play gives a break from the worry that plagues our lives.

·      Total abandonment: play gives us a BREAK from reality for a while.

·      Relaxation: most times after play, even rigorous play, we feel more relaxed.

·      Connection: we can connect on a more personal level with others when we play.

·      and on and on and on...

MaP: Why don’t women play as much as men?

Brannen: Women misunderstand the value of play. Women always put their responsibilities as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, members of the community, workers and more, first and foremost. This means that they don’t realize that by not playing they may actually be less able to fulfill those responsibilities similar to not eating well, getting enough rest, and exercising. More often you will hear women say, “I know I should eat better, sleep more, get more exercise,” but rarely do you hear them say, “I need to play more.” Or, if they do say it, they don’t put in the effort to start.

MaP: What are women’s main resistances to play?

Brannen: You know, like most things women are trying to do better, it isn’t so much resistance as it is reluctance. “Am I trading time I should be... cleaning, working, taking care of Mom, the kids, the dog, for play time for me? That is selfish.” We are reluctant to be seen not doing the “right thing.” We have to help women understand that play is the right thing!

MaP: What can women do to build up their play muscles?

Brannen: Start small. Do something like take a 10 minutes break to research something that fascinates you or knit a potholder. Call a girlfriend and make plans for a “play date.” Use your calendar to color in play times. Ask, ask, ask all the time what people are doing for play until something strikes a cord with you and creates a burning desire for play.

MaP: How can a stay-at-home mother make her day more playful? And a professional woman?

Brannen: Again, look at small things you can do from wearing fun clothes, to taking the breaks mentioned above. Look at your world and find the opportunities for play that you are missing. Change the color of the post it notes on your desk. Buy fun shoes. Get a joke a day delivered to your inbox. Set an appointment on your calendar for a play break and then invite friends to participate. Trust me, your friends have lots of ideas, you just have to be willing to try.

MaP: How do you play? What’s your favorite play?

Brannen: Now don’t laugh, but one of my favorite ways to play is to sit still and enjoy what is around me for ten minutes in silence. There is noise in the air so I have to hunt that out, but I love it when I find it! This is followed very closely by much more active things like hiking, biking, kayaking, cleaning, (Yes, I LOVE TO CLEAN and wash dishes!) reading books, (I am a voracious reader), anytime our family sits and talks, dinners with girlfriends, massages, sketching plans to remodel, browsing catalogs and online stores, (trying not to buy), music, singing, playing the piano, community service projects with my Rotary club, baseball games with my husband, (lots of hot dogs and cheering), theater, long driving trips to see friends, beach time, swimming....... shall I go on?  Now do I do these every day? Every week? Every month? NO, but I have them in my bag of tricks and I PLAN to do these at some time.





 

Jul 3, 2012

by Nadia

A Trip to Guatemala

Next November (or January), the Mice are heading to Guatemala!

Mountainous, heavily forested and dotted with Mayan ruins, lakes, volcanoes, orchids and exotic birds, Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America.

For 5/6 days, we will go on a tour of Antigua Guatemala, visit the spectacular ruins of Tikal, and the villages around Lake Atitlan. We will cook tamales with a local lady, taste the delcious artisanal chocolate, attend a Mayan spiritual ceremony, and for the athletic ones we'll water ski on the lake with Armand, a long time friend who has lived there for more than 25 years.

For those of you interested, please contact us at : iwanttoplay@miceatplay.com."

Jun 28, 2012

by Nadia

Life on Manual Mode

While traveling through Italy two weeks ago, it was the first time in many years that I felt in a full state of Play (for 6 days in a row!). Italy, the most beautiful playground in the world, was there for us to explore. I was ready to capture every moment of our journey on my camera.

During the course of this trip, something unexpected and thrilling happened.... For the first time, I dared to set my camera on Manual Mode. Forget Automatic! Switching “modes” was scary at first but it became quickly liberating, exciting and rewarding. Not only did I start to understand a complex art tool, I tapped into my creativity and created some great images.

This experience made me think... To deal with a very busy life, many find comfort in predictability. A daily routine has something soothing. Well-organized and scheduled days avoid chaos, and the stress of the uncertainty that goes with it. But as Friedrich Nietzsche says, “One must still have chaos within oneself, to give birth to a dancing star.” What if switching from living our life in “Automatic” to “Manual” helped us  found our "dancing star"?

What does it mean for you to live your life in Manual Mode? For me, it means to leave space for spontaneity and surprises, and ban the words "I'd love to but...." Whenever I do so, I feel closer to my dancing star.

Jun 13, 2012

by Nadia

Verdant Verticals

The benefit of all this rain: vibrant green everywhere!

Lush greenery makes me think of a very special gardener, visionary designer, and innovative artist—Patrick Blanc. One of the founding fathers of the vertical garden movement, Blanc is also one of the most prolific. His installations can be enjoyed from Tokyo to Madrid, New York to Dubai, Paris to New Delhi, London to Hong Kong.

My favorite is the wall at the Caixa Forum in Madrid! The greenery is intensified when juxtaposed with the oxidized corten building. Looking at Blanc's creations helps me breathe more easily!

Just out from Norton is a revised and updated version of his stunning book on the subject, The Vertical Garden. Stay dry while you browse its pages over a cozy cup of tea!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2012

by Sara

Do Not Disturb

 

Doing what delights us makes us happier and healthier. When we feel good, we tend to be in the now and do more of the right things in our life. 

Remember the French saying “En Mai fais ce qu'il te plait” (“In May, do as you wish”)? At Mice at Play, we think of Mother's day as the perfect day to carve playtime for ourselves, to seek out pleasure and do as we please. Last year, 15 of us dared to tell our family that we were taking the afternoon off to attend the 2nd annual Mice at Play vintage dress up photo shoot. In our 1950s outfits, we got to fantasize we were characters in a Mad Men episode while Dorothee and Annabel captured beautiful shots of us at play. It was my best Mother's Day to date!

Mice, Leisure time is a right! It is the article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So each time you are about to “play hooky”…curb your guilt. Taking time for yourself is not selfish. On the contrary, it’s humane. When you take the time to do what YOU want, you ensure not only your happiness, but that of those around you.

So how do you get your entourage to support your play intentions? How do you signal to them that you are at play, busy doing something important for you and not to interrupt unless the house is burning down? 

Create a personalized “Do Not Disturb” sign! Take a paper. Draw the sign and fill it with all the things that you would like to fill your leisure time. “Reading Gone with the Wind/War and Peace. Expect Delay”, “I am devouring the whole jar of Van Leeuwen Earl Grey Ice cream. Keep Out”, “Am Feng Shui-ing my life. Stay Calm” ... And each time you are ready to take a recess from this acrobatic act that is motherhood, place your “Do Not Disturb” sign. You'll see: It's a powerful tool to keep family members and co-workers at bay. It's also a fun reminder to yourself of all the interesting things that you could be doing other than another house chore. 

Mice, you have 3 days to create your “Do Not Disturb” sign. Honor your hard work. And have fun with it. Please send us a photo. Post it on our Facebook page. Maybe you'll be paddleboarding with us on June 23rd in East Hampton, or tasting tapas and Flamenco dancing on June 28th…playing volleyball on July 14th…or dressing up on September 14th! As for me, next time I pull out my sign it will be on May 23rd. It will read “Do not disturb. I am boarding a plane to Italy to eat, pray, love.”

May 10, 2012

by Nadia

Horse Play

What do you get when you cross the Kentucky Derby with Cinco de Mayo? A mint margarita, perhaps? A stallion in a sombrero?

At 6:23pm tomorrow, May 5, 2012 the 138th Annual Kentucky Derby will run.  The first race in the Triple Crown, the derby is the most anticipated race of the 5-week Crown season. Though the newly 3-year-old, Bodemeister—his birthday was last weekend!—is favored to win, I’ll be rooting for the slightly older, El Padrino. (OK! I’ll confess. I know one of owners.)

In the spirit of Why Not?...why not invite a few friends over for nachos and arbitrage? Wear a fancy hat like the ladies of Louisville while you sip your mint margarita.

Mint Margaritas for 2

3 shots Milagro Tequila

½ cup freshly squeezed limejuice (approx. 4 limes worth)

½ cup Cointreau

¼ cup chopped mint leaf

2 cups crushed ice

Himilayan sea salt for rim

Whole mint leaves for garnish

Prepare a highball glass by rubbing lime wedge on edge and dipping in salt. Place tequila, limejuice, Cointreau, chopped mint and ice in shaker. Shake from the hips.  Pour into the glass and add while mint for garnish.

 

May 4, 2012

by Sara

Play at Work

 

"Human beings are most productive when work feels like play. Enthusiasm, imagination and resourcefulness—the critical ingredients for success in the creative economy—get unleashed when people are having fun. In the future, the most successful organizations will be the ones that have figured out how to blur the boundary between vocation and avocation. Among other things, this will require organizations to better align personal interests and professional responsibilities, to take the drudgery out of work, and to grant employees more control over what they work on.” Gary Hamel


(Image from Jorrit Van Rijt)

May 2, 2012

by Nadia

A Lucky Charm on May Day

Beginning in the Renaissance in France, on May 1st we give each other a branch of Lily of the Valley representing a token of our love and affection. This fresh flower of May named "Muguet" is a lucky charm that signifies the return to happiness. Please share this message and photo with your loved ones, wherever they are, and may you all have a wonderful May Day!

There is also a saying "En Mai, fais ce qu'il te plait"  which translates as "In May, do as you wish." Mice during this beautiful month of spring, give yourself the gift of play! Come with us on our Yoga Hike this Sunday or Paddle Boarding in East Hampton in June! Many other playdates are in the mix: Flower Arranging, Circus Arts Day, 1940s Dress Up Photoshoot, Revolutionary Beach Volleyball game "La Revanche" on Bastille Day, Musical Theater, Drama, Perfume Making, etc...

May 1, 2012

by Nadia

Playful In the Bedroom

 

 The Mice know how to play! We swing from the flying trapeze…we dress up like Harlem starlets…we get in the ring with amateur champion boxers…we play with our food. We are equally curious in our erotic exploration as we pole dance, learn to twirl tassels, and hunt for titillating toys.

Now we’re ready to go a little deeper with our discovery. We’re looking to bust out of our comfort zone. To do so, we asked NYC’s most reputable Mistresses, the Domi Dollz to take us by the hand and teach us how to infuse fun and spontaneity into the bedroom. They will lead us on a playful and fun adventure during the Dominatrix for a Day playdate on April 19th at The Bubble Lounge in NYC. These mistresses of kink will help us become more playful in the bedroom.


Here's there take on how to spice things up between the sheets, and take control of what happens in the bedroom:

MaP: How can play be used to strengthen intimacy?

DD: A kinky sex life is meant to satisfy the sexual desires of both partners and it ultimately brings them closer together. People crave adventure and many (especially men) assume that settling down in a monogamous relationship means the end to adventure. Many long-term couples will tell you that when you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, the passion and excitement can decrease for the simple reason that you both know exactly what’s coming next.

There’s nothing sexier than not only having a partner that makes us feel like we don’t have to give up the adventurous part of ourselves, but also encourages us to be more adventurous together. No one wants to be bored in a relationship, and kinky people are least of all boring! Kink is about breaking boundaries and taboos and putting that old “tried and true” bedroom moves on the shelf, making room for something different and maybe a little naughty.

 

MaP: If you have a motto in the bedroom, what is it? 

DD: Our tagline at Domi Dollz is: “If variety is the spice of life, kink is the spice of sex!”

MaP: Do you have a few tips for women to have a more playful relationship? 

DD: Educate yourself! Read books, attend sex positive classes, and find inspiration through knowledge. Once you are connected to yourself, you will be able to connect to your partner in fun and exciting ways.

MaP: How do YOU play in the bedroom?

DD: We are always open to all possibilities in the bedroom from vanilla to kink. As long as we are having fun with our partners, that’s all that matters.

MaP: What do you have to say to women who might be somewhat intimidated by your workshop?

DD: It’s important to know that there are many, many, many levels of kink- it’s not only about pain or servitude. The meaning of kink is unconventional. So while vanilla sex may mean the missionary position. Kinky sex can include anything outside the norm. Our fun and friendly workshop will help you decide what’s right for you and your relationship.

MaP: What will women take away from your workshop?

DD: Our main objective in our workshops is to have fun. At the very least, ladies that come to our workshop have an absolute blast. Ideally, ladies leave our workshops new of new possibilities and the confidence to pursue their fantasies and enhance their relationships.

MaP: What books would you recommend to help women bring more play into the bedroom?

DD: SM101” and “Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns” are both great resources! 

 

 

 

Apr 11, 2012

by Sara

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