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Time to play?

My favorite time of year is fall and more specifically, October when the trees are beginning to show their beautiful colors, there’s a nip in the air and pumpkins are magically appearing everywhere on doorsteps. It is also the month of one of my favorite holidays, Halloween!  

Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2022 will occur on Monday, October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. For me, it is a day when we as adults get to play “dress-up” and become anyone or anything we want to be.  From witches, goblins, and ghosts to famous people and even inanimate objects (I remember someone coming to our Halloween party as a dinner table, set up for a party of 2 with candles, plates and wine glasses. A “hoot” and they won the prize for best, creative costume)!

I loved coming to work in costume on Halloween as it was the one time I could “play” and be something other than the serious Chief Executive Assistant to John. One specific Halloween I decided to create a costume where I morphed into a Pink Pig over the course of my day.  It started when I arrived in the morning wearing Pink Pig ears and my normal business attire.  I got a few smiles and odd looks but not like the shocked look I got on the face of one of our newest Senior Vice Presidents who had just joined Cisco. I stopped by his office as he was putting away some of his files and I greeted him with a big smile and a welcome. He practically fell out of his chair at the sight of me (probably wondering if he made the right choice in coming to work for Cisco).  I always loved the ‘shock’ factor on this special day.

John, on the other hand, was not shocked, he just smiled, winked, and proceeded to review his calendar with me.  (He was already used to my affinity for Halloween). As the day progressed, so did my costume. By noon I was dressed entirely in pink and by 2 pm I had grown a tail and a snout. Now as you know, pigs are not necessarily neat so by noon my cube was littered with empty coke cans, McDonald’s hamburger wrappers, and a half-eaten bag of popcorn. At this point, John was not even coming to my desk for fear of what he might find next. It was my opportunity to break away from the normal, tense, and sometimes stressful business day and actually “play.” As a teacher and trainer, one of the most impactful tools I use when I am coaching my students to stretch themselves and build on their confidence is by having them use different kinds of props and costumes like funny hats and crazy eyeglasses and ‘play.’ I give them scenarios that align with what I am teaching and they in turn create and then act out specific scenes.  It appears that as adults, we do love to ‘play’ when we are given the ‘ok’ and in this case, my students come out of their shells.

In one instance, I literally could not get the microphone away from one of my participants who was initially so shy she couldn’t even introduce herself to the group when we first gathered. Even as an adult, I love all kinds of games, periodically dress up, and just ‘play’ in this game of life. So, what games do you enjoy playing now that you have grown up? If you were given the “OK” to ‘play’ and could dress up in any kind of costume, what would you be and why? Be human, have fun and learn to reignite your “playful” spirit every once in a while!

Yours Truly,

Debbie Gross


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