PERMISSION TO PLAY : Inquiry : #p2play


Welcome to PERMISSION TO PLAY! For late Spring and Summer of 2013, Chel Micheline will be hosting a creative challenge (a sort of  “summer camp” for your inner child here) at Bliss Habits every Tuesday. And she’d love for you to join her.

All you have to do is this:
Once a week, every week, make the time to HAVE SOME CREATIVE FUN– something that allows you to let go, drop the inner critic for a while, and just have fun.

Every Tuesday, we’ll do a little “show-and-tell” about our creative experiments- you are welcome to leave a comment or link up to your own blog post about your adventure. (If you want to know more about PERMISSION TO PLAY, click here.)  And since today is Tuesday … here we go!

image by Andy Crawford
image by Andy Crawford

Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.
– Euripides

When I was a little kid, I was fascinated with space. I was more than a little freaked out by the fact that I lived on this bright sunshine-y blue planet, while other planets (vastly different than our own and lacking in life ) silently circled around in the same piece of dark space ruled by a set of scientific laws that I didn’t understand. How could it be possible? It was more than I could really comprehend.

But I kept checking out giant astronomy books from the library and looking out the  little telescope my parents got me and asking tons and tons of questions. If I couldn’t know all the answers, at least I could keep looking. And that was enough.

Fast forward to summer, 2013. Tom and I have been listening to the audio version of the book “A Short History of Nearly Everything” in the car. It’s an abbreviated history of science and even though it’s accessible and incredibly entertaining, it’s all very overwhelming.

As we listen, the same exact questions pop up now as when I was a nine-year-old geeking out behind the telescope: How can there be something as huge as a galaxy and something as small as a molecule in the same world, inhabiting the same space? How can I understand life when it encompasses such a vast and minscule place all at once? How can it all be real?

I tried to do the mature thing and just accept that there were things I would not know the answers to. But that was not remotely satisfying, or at the very least, fun. Then I started asking Tom, who is a lot more educated in matters of science than I am, a zillion questions. After I decided that I annoyed him quite enough, I decided to  do the “grown-up”, 21st century version of checking out books from the library and looking out a toy telescope: I Googled stuff.

I sat down at my computer one afternoon and I Googled pretty much anything and everything that I had a question about.

I Googled maps of the earth from millions of years ago. I Googled timelines for ancient, wonderous creatures and I Googled different theories on why they went extinct. I Googled photos of the planets and I Googled maps of the galaxies. I Googled conspiracy theories on aliens and I Googled audio loops of the WOW! signal.

I allowed myself to sit in front of the computer and poke around on the internet almost every evening this week, without feeling an ounce of guilt about it. And it was pretty wonderful. I felt like an explorer, finding out the answers to questions I had long packed away and forgotten about.

It reminded me of afternoons in the school library, when I took book after book off the shelf and flipped through the pages, just looking for interesting stuff. Nothing I *didn’t* want to learn, mind you, just stuff I found interesting and appealing at the moment.

It reminded me of peeking through the telescope at the bright moon, and then having to rush inside my house because it really overwhelmed me (and it was scary to be all alone in the dark backyard!)

It reminded me of finding the goldmine in the middle of the encylclopedia: that set of transparent pages that illustrated all  the “layers” of the human body (does anyone remember that?) That volume of the encyclopedia was always the first one to go missing from any classroom I was ever in.

It reminded me of waking up every day with a sense of engagement and fierce curiosity, instead of rolling out of bed feeling instantly exhausted by all the stuff on my “to do” list.

As I spent a few evenings this week Googling things that interested me, and guilt-lessly hopping from one link to another, it felt *so* good to realize that even though I’m 39 years old, there are still a lot of things that fascinate me. There are still so many things I want to learn.

And it felt so very good to realize that there’s still a lot of stuff out there *for* me to learn.

So even though I’m someone’s mom, and I’m years out of elementary school and that tiny library, I can still tap into a sense of wonder and curiosity simply by having a question to ask. That’s all it took for me to plug back into that sense of wonder and engagement with the world, the possibility of things- just finding a question to ask.

Is there anything that fascinated you as a child that you can revisit now, as an adult? What questions do you have that might be worth spending some time finding the answers to? I’d love to know how inquiry makes *you* feel.

It’s never too late to join in. Simply have some creative fun and get ready to share it next Tuesday. You can leave a comment here or create a blog post over on your site and link it to Bliss Habits on Tuesdays. We’re even on Twitter: Kathy added a # to p2play to make #p2play for twitter! Share your creations there too! We are @BlissHabits (Kathy) and @GingerblueArt (Chel) if you’d like to copy us too!

Here’s a banner you can put on your blog:


the code for this badge (just copy/paste into your own blog):

<a href=””><img alt=”playchallenge” src=”” width=”200″ height=”142″ /></a>

Chel Micheline is a mixed-media artist, curator, writer, and avid gardener/reader/swimmer who lives in Southwest Florida with her husband and daughter. When Chel’s not making art or pondering the Bliss Habits, she’s blogging at (come say hi!) or posting new things in the gingerblue etsy shop.

6 thoughts on “PERMISSION TO PLAY : Inquiry : #p2play

  1. Hi Chel, Hi Kathy!
    I’m fascinated by this question: Is there anything that fascinated you as a child that you can revisit now, as an adult? I don’t have an answer to it – yet – but I will! Isn’t it wonderful that you were able to take up your childhood inquiry with all the amazing tools available today! (can we get Google street view of the planet millions of years ago? I guess there are some limits but not many 😉
    How does it feel for me to ask these questions? Liberated!

    • I *wish* we could get a Google Street View for a zillion years ago! *swoons* I kind of love that I didn’t learn this science as a child (the school I went to had conflicting views so science was a little scattershot) because it all seems wonderous to me now. I appreciate it so much more. And I want to learn it all! 🙂

      I’d love to know what fascinated *you* as a child. It’s all so interesting to me.

  2. Great topic, Chel! Painting always fascinated me as a child, and as a child I constantly dabbling in painting & drawing. There was a long stretch of my adult years where fiber art largely became my way of expression and creative enjoyment. Last year I began painting again… it was the BEST thing I ever did for myself, to revisit my creative past and make it my present again!

    • I love painting too. I didn’t have a lot of paint as a kid (my parents supplied me with endless markers, pens, and paper, though!) so when we got those Crayola watercolors at school, I was overjoyed. I think that’s why I love watercolor so much- I’ll never forget the perfect little round swells of color in a pristine package, and what it felt like to dip a wet brush into them and guide it across the paper. It was like magic for me. I need to shut off the “critic” voice when I paint and just have fun again. I’m really working on that!

  3. Meg Toledo says:

    What an awesome post, Chel! I loved just gazing at the stars as a kid, and I love looking for comets and meteor showers with my hubby and son now. I wish I’d had a telescope as a kid! I thought I’d be an astronaut and loved watching astronaut shows on Discovery Channel. Whenever I had questions, my mom would tell me we should look it up, and I’d pull an encyclopedia off our shelves and start reading. I mostly read about animals as a kid, actually, I don’t know why I didn’t think to look up stars and planets then! I loved reading about stuff, though, and yes, I loved those transparent pages with layers of the human body!!! When I was a kid, I realized that I’d probably never get to read all the books in the world and learn everything there is to know, and that did not make me sad. I felt kind of happy about the idea, in fact, that there would always be more to learn. I love learning! It’s a fun feeling.

    One time, only a few years ago, a friend of mine and I, who are pretty nerdy about wanting to learn more, were having a conversation and realized our knowledge of geography sucked. We looked up where one country was located, and found ourselves on a kids’ geography site where it shows you a bunch of countries, then you go to a blank map next, and have to guess/recall the countries’ names as they light up. I forget the site now, but we had so much fun trying to remember them all and improve our geography knowledge!! It’s fun when learning feels invigorating and even a bit funny/silly – I think it helps us remember the information better. 🙂

    Thanks for a great, thought inspiring post, Chel!

    • I still have my encyclopedias from when I was a kid. I have vowed that when Gracie has to start writing paper, she needs to use them and then she can verify the info online. I know that sounds strict, but I think that flipping through indexes and pulling books from a shelf, and then*reading* (from a PAGE) and learning is like opening a treasure chest. I’ve never gotten that feeling from Wikipedia! 🙂

      One thing about geography that interests me (other than the fact i am super vague about it) is that little countries change often. I mean, when we were kids, there was the USSR and a bunch of countries in Africa has different names than they do now. Things change constantly. It’s amazing to think of all that has changed in just the last 35/40 years, you know?

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