Admittedly, I allow too much of my day to be caught up in doing, doing, doing.

It seems I am constantly Judging. “What needs to be done?” “What did I do?” “What didn’t I do?” Judging, questioning, and doubting catapults me out of the present moment and into either the past or into the future. Creativity or joy rarely evolves from ruminating over the past or worry and contemplating the future.

No goal-no expectation of the outcome- no plan- no agenda

When I was a child, I’d daydream a lot. My imagination was on fire. I’d lose track of time and I’d be lost in play. I’d be lost in the present moment.Throughout my childhood and young adult years I’d spend hours doing something just for the sake of fun and using my imagination.

~I’d create something out of nothing. I loved carving shapes out of Ivory soap.

~I’d color just because I wanted to. Not because I had to for a project.

~I’d pretend the dock at our house on the river in Michigan was a raft. My childhood friend and I would pretend we were Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn floating down the river to our next adventure.

~I’d spend hours at Tower Records on my way home from my job on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I’d listen to music before I bought it. Maybe even dance if the music moved me to do so. After an evening of exploring music, I’d walk home with at least three new CD’s. By weekend’s end, I’d know every song on all of the CD’s.

Getting lost in thought

Recently, a friend of mine posted on social media a photo of her and her family on their vacation to London. She was the only one looking up…lost in thought and admiration of the beauty around her.Her caption read: “No one told me the picture was being taken. I was reading the ceiling and in my own world with no idea of what was happening.” I commented: “What a beautiful photo. Truly. It’s a beautiful photo. Getting ‘lost’ is good for the soul.”

I added, “Keep wandering—and wondering—my friend.”

 Why lost is the new found

It turns out getting lost in play can actually be good for your brain. According to integrative neuroscientist Dr. Heidi Hanna (, “When we allow our minds to wander it can provide a needed stretch that leads to greater flexibility, creativity and insight.  When we experience chronic stress, go too long without taking breaks, or overly focus on one thing for too long, the brain can experience an energy hijack that limits our thought patterns to old, hard-wired, automatic pilot mode.

Play, laughter, and humor have been shown in the research to decrease toxic stress hormones in the brain, minimize inflammation in the brain and body, and enhance memory, focus and attention. Most people experience their greatest moments of clarity at the times they’re hardly trying, such as during a shower, while getting a massage, or out for a long walk in nature.” Building in strategic play time is not only good for your body, it may bring you home to what’s most important to you as you let go of all the rules and discover new territory to explore.

When was the last time you wandered and explored along the way?

Years ago I used to deliberately ‘get lost’ and take a new or different route home…sometimes with the intention of getting lost for the sole purpose of making new discoveries. I’d figure out how to get home using my inner gauge. (There was no cell phone or GPS to guide me home. I couldn’t rely on something other than myself if I wanted to.)

Although I haven’t taken the long way home (As the band, “Supertramp” suggests in their song, “Take the Long Way Home”) or colored in coloring books in a while, I am getting lost in and basking in my favorite art form: Improv.

Improv allows me—and encourages me–to get lost in play. When I am playing in improv, I get lost in the moment and lost in my imagination. I am delighted and grateful that I get to play with my improv playmates…in the best city for improv–Chicago!

You’re never too old to play. Go find your game and play.

Keep wandering—and wondering, my friend.

About the author: Julie Ostrow is the Humor, Laughter, and Improv Coach and is the First-Ever American Laughing Champion. She coaches groups and corporations how to use humor, laughter, and improv techniques to improv communication, connection, creativity, and collaboration.


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