It's February! Is everyone excited? February brings us many things: groundhogs, a holiday about love, and the promise of getting closer to the end of winter. This year we're even treated to a leap year - a whole extra day to really enjoy all that February has to offer. I thought I'd spend February discussing "Stuff I Love." I know I'm not Oprah but I feel like if she gets her favorite things, I get "Stuff I Love." That's how the world works.
Up first: mandatory fun.
What's that? You don't know what mandatory fun is? Mandatory fun or "Mandofun" is actually a military term.
It's something that you're "invited" to attend (i.e. told to attend). I don't recall my parents ever using it when we were growing up. However, I can definitely recall
multiple events from my childhood that fit nicely into this category. This includes but is not limited to multiple trips to the air show and a picnic that included a group of mildly inebriated Army officers singing the Oak Ridge Boys song "Elvira." Memorable but not really what I'd call fun. In non-military terms, this
could apply to things like a company holiday party or that really
awkward happy hour you have to attend with senior leadership team
members. Y'all know what I'm talking about.
It's also the name of Weird Al's latest album. I saw Weird Al in concert for the first time last summer. If you haven't seen him live before, make sure to catch him the next time he visits your town/city/fair hamlet. It's a fun show; lots of costume changes and cool lighting effects and multimedia elements. He plays a ton of songs from his extensive catalog including all the hits and some songs I had no idea he ever did. His band is awesome - they can play just about any type of music and have fun doing it. Weird Al's latest album is called Mandatory Fun and this phrase has become a mantra of mine. Given the album artwork, Al knows where "mandatory fun" comes from
Personally, I like to use the term to refer to those little oases in the
day that allow you recenter yourself and take a little break from
what's going on. I'm more on the introverted side of life and I find little mandatory fun breaks help me focus during the day. It's also important for me to have
opportunities to be creative everyday. In my job some days are devoted
to doing things like reserving conference rooms and updating whether or
not a person has attended an education program I run. Neither of those
things are fun, interesting, or creative so I have to get that
elsewhere. Mandatory fun helps.
Over the summer, several of my co-workers decided that we needed to get on the adult coloring bandwagon and dedicate lunch once a month to taking a coloring break. If you're not familiar with what adult coloring is, check out this article or this one. Lots of people, including doctors and other mental health professionals, see coloring as a way for adults to calm their anxiety, relax, and create something. So for a few lunches over the summer, a group of us spent our break in a conference room, coloring, eating lunch, and chatting quietly. We didn't eat lunch at our desks for a change. We created a little moment of quiet and calm in the middle of busy, often over-scheduled days.
After our first coloring lunch, I started joking with people that I'd really like my title at work to be "Director of Mandatory Fun." In addition to having a coloring book library and art supplies at the ready, I have Legos available whenever anyone needs a building break.
It's fun to be able to
spend part of the day coloring or building something cool out of Legos
or reading or whatever else fits into your definition of mandatory fun. It's easy to lose sight of all of these things when there are deadlines to meet and people to train and other important work stuff to do. We all spend a lot of time at work so we might as well enjoy it while we're there. Mandatory fun doesn't have to feel like those company parties and military command picnics we're all so used to. Mandatory fun can be just that...fun.
What other stuff do I love? Up next a special Valentine's Day post devoted to the best musical moments from Quentin Tarantino films. "Stuck in the Middle with You" is the obvious one but there are more surprises to come.