🌹🌹Today was one of my late grandmother’s birthdays who taught me how to play the ancient game of Jacks. She explained the more bounce the ball had, plus the lighter the Jacks were, the easier it was to play–especially when a player found the perfect rhythm. Similar to playing Jump Rope. After much practice and encouragement from my grandmother, I finally got it and I shared these helpful hints with friends. It was a game of balance and of being in the present moment. My grandmother regularly enjoyed seeing romantic, artsy matinée films on the big screen at the local cinema. I wonder which film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice she would’ve preferred, or perhaps, like many Janeites, she would’ve loved them all–but especially Colin Firth’s Darcy
Last weekend was the annual JASNA-GCR Spring Gala at the Women's Athletic Club in Chicago. It was a fabulous full-day for Janeite fun, themed ‘Primping for the Pump Rooms’. In Zachary Pinsent’s engaging presentation, "Dressing the Dandy," Pinsent gave a lively overview of men's Regency Era clothing and the elements of a gentleman's wardrobe enacted through a playful, live dressing-up demonstration that included witty anecdotes he shared about each historical piece he put on for the audience.
In Alicia Schult’s presentation, "The Ins & Outs of Cosmetic Beauty & Regency Hair Care," Schult guided the audience through a typical morning toilette ritual, complete with a proper skin care routine, application of original cosmetics and their contents, plus various hair styles worn during Jane Austen's time. She further discussed the importance of exercise being introduced in the Regency Era, including strolling, stretching, Archery, Hoops, Lawn Bowl, Shuttlecock, and other types of sport and outdoor games that were deemed suitable for women. Concepts of inner beauty and outer beauty began to take form in this period, as Schult insightfully explained. The rosy, healthy glow from exercise, sport and movement is the look that Regency women tried to capture in their toilette.
It is a wonder to consider how playfulness and sport evolved not only as ingredients of desirable health, but also as a quality of beauty during Austen’s lifetime. For when we are lost in our play, our inner joy creates an outer glow that reveals our true nature of being in the moment, ever present, always anew.
I have observed many children and adults at play in a variety of settings. When players of all ages are deeply engaged in their play, they often light up with a glow expressed in their facial expressions. Throughout the process of developing and making my games, I draw on experiences I had with my family and friends, when we had so much fun playing one of our favorite games together, that we lost all sense of time. I often imagine players engaged with each other–being inspired and immersed, getting lost in moments of joy and wonder, being present, and becoming through being something new together that can uniquely happen within the magic circle of the game. It is moments like these that can add to our health, our well-being and our experience of beauty through play.
Happy May! Happy Birthday Grandma!