In my book Sanctuaries: Self-Care Secrets for Stressed Out Teachers* there is a chapter entitled “Play.”

It revolves around the idea that, no matter how old you are, one great strategy for reducing stress, increasing self-care, and avoiding burnout is to just have fun. Plain and Simple.

In all areas of The Zen Teacher experience, I have always tried to walk the talk. To that end, I recently saw someone on Facebook who was putting googly eyes on everything.

It made me smile. It brightened my day.

And so my first thought was, “Oh yes. This will be happening.”

$5 on Amazon and  two days shipping later, I had my own bag of eyes.


Bemused file cabinet

Now you may feel that, with my 58th birthday fast approaching, surely I am too old to be playing with Googly eyes.


Two-faced teacher (but in a good way!)

Not only was it super fun, but after placing them all over my apartment, I went back to school for the first time in 14 months, and I was able to connect with my students (my SENIORS, no less) in a fun and engaging way by asking them where I should put the eyes and, before you knew it, they were asking if THEY could have some and I was handing out googly eyes all over the classroom.

Startled pencil sharpener

Later, after posting pictures of my handiwork on Facebook myself, I noticed that I was getting tons of engagement on my post from people I didn’t even know and was not currently “friends” with.

What I learned, after a little bit of poking around, is that the hosts of a radio show/podcast I’d been a guest on early in the pandemic had seen my post, was entertained by it, and had shared it. In fact, that host had bought some googly eyes of her own and offered a giveaway to her audience. If they put their school or district name in the comments, she would pick four winners who get a bag of googly eyes of their own. Not only were there over 75 entries, but all of the comments talked about how fun, entertaining, and happy they found my original post (I have included pictures from that Facebook post here in the blog entry. . .)


Mouse that looks like Dorrie.

The bottom line is that because of something I did in my own classroom, people were amused, smiling, and choosing fun and play for themselves.

It was humbling. But it was also exciting!

Pensive document camera

In these uncertain times, people are starving for play.

They are starving for fun.

And fun doesn’t have to extravagant, expensive, or everlasting.

Sometimes fun and play only takes a few moments. And can be completely free.

Life is serious enough and it comes with plenty of day-to-day challenges.

Don’t be afraid to have more silliness in your life.

Look for it.

And if you don’t see it, create it.

Welcome it. Cultivate it.

Look for those opportunities to smile.

And to make others smile.

What’s better than that?

As your days and weeks wear on, please don’t forget to engage in play, recognize love, and find joy.

They are all over the place. TZT


*And if you’re struggling with stress or burnout, please check out Sanctuaries. It has tons of great ideas for reducing stress, taking care of yourself, and just having fun. 


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