Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin combines her knowledge of American presidents with Eric Erickson’s observation that we need to balance three needs–love, work, and play–in order to be fulfilled people.

She describes Lincoln’s love of the theater and storytelling and contrasts his ability to play with Lyndon Johnson’s fixation on work. She herself has mastered the art of telling stories. If you listen to her all the way to the end, you will discover a treat. Her tribute to her father and to baseball is a mini-memoir masterpiece.

How do you combine love, play, and work in your life? Is play the hardest one for you, too?

Shirley Showalter


  1. GutsyWriter on April 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Shirley, I have not yet watched the video and shall when I get home tonight. I find the balance quite difficult, especially after all the social media aspiring authors are expected to put in these days. Fortunately my daily workouts at the gym, keep me sane. Are you keeping the three in balance?

    • shirleyhs on April 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      It’s hard, isn’t it? Even without a M-F 9-5 office schedule, I tend to spend more time on “work” than on love and play. My work is now reading, writing, social media, speaking and consulting. It’s also evolving, since I have the luxury (or curse?) of having pretty wide open options and many interests. Thanks for asking the question.

      Having a new grandson certainly floods the love department, and I’m off to the gym in a few minutes also! Work, play, and love have been intertwined for me most of my life. There’s a shadow side to that arrangement, but it’s very fulfilling when all three are supporting each other.

      Maybe I’ll try to write about this subject. It seemingly hit a nerve with FB friends–even the ones who are retired. Hmmmm.

  2. Diana Schramer on May 12, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Oh, Shirley, this is lovely and truly an inspiration. I, too, have recently rediscovered the joy of play after playing T-ball and kickball with my four-year-old granddaughter in my backyard. Until then, I didn’t realize what had been missing from my life. I love hard and I work hard, and as a result, I had forgotten how to play. Thank you so much for sharing this moving, gentle reminder from this admirable woman.

    • Shirley Showalter on May 13, 2016 at 2:36 am

      Hi Diana! Welcome to this playful space. I write from Lindesfarne, England, this morning. When I travel, I often think of my grandchildren and wonder what would make them jump with glee in the world I’m seeing. Let’s keep in learning from our precious little ones!

  3. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on May 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you Shirley.
    I am touched by so much here, especially the hole in LBJ’s heart contrasted with Lincoln’s way to find play through “story, better than a drop of whiskey.”
    I feel affirmed in so much of my work and play and loves…retelling the stories of my ancestors, telling stories in Godly Play on Sundays, listening to stories of my directee and more.

    • Shirley Showalter on May 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Dolores, your comment sings with joy. I am so glad you are finding ways to play as you follow your vocation! Blessings from Lindisfarne!

  4. Marian Beaman on May 12, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you for bringing me back here to a “new” post. I enjoyed this TedX talk too. 🙂

    • Shirley Showalter on May 13, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      Marian, I found a way to repurpose posts that fit MMM themes. Helps me stay in touch while I travel. I schedule them in advance and hope for a few moments like this one after a long all and before the sticky toffee pudding at dinner tonight!

  5. Audrey Denecke on May 12, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    I have long appreciated Doris Kearns Goodwin and her research and telling the stories of historical leaders. Her closing words were very touching.
    I have had periods of my life that were more work intensive than others. And even then I was blessed with the pulls of family events. I am the eldest of a family of 12; there are six girls and six boys, plus my mom would always mention her three angels in heaven (miscarriages). There is a 20-year difference between my youngest brother and me. And, there were always reasons to go home and celebrate some family occasion.
    Now as I am in the midst of semi-retirement, life has a marvelous balance. I have work with coaching clients and projects with colleagues. Although my parents have passed, all the siblings still attempt to stay in touch despite many being quite distant in location. Those of us in the area do gather together fairly frequently.
    My play takes many forms. Storytelling has been an interest for over 30 years now; attending storytelling festivals, learning how to tell stories, reading stories including historical stories. And now, writing my stories is a new form of play for me. I am also one of my family’s primary family historians; researching the paths of our ancestors.
    Cooking and baking are quite often forms of creative expression and play. I enjoy being with my nieces and nephews of all ages engaged in many playful activities. And physically, I can still enjoy hiking, exploring nature, and kayaking. The latter of which I want to do more of in the coming months. I’m always up for play.

    So I am fortunate to be at a place and time in my life where balance exists.
    I, as Lincoln, always wanted to leave a legacy of some value. I will not be remembered in the way national leaders are remembered. I will be happy to be remembered as a loving sister, cousin, aunt, and friend. I am glad I lent my work, time, and energy to the social change work especially in the 70’s even without knowing if I left a lasting mark. My genealogy work will leave a base for further exploration of our ancestry. I’m grateful, several of my coaching clients have expressed value from our partnership. And now, I writing my memoir and its’ stories, insights, at least for my family and, if published, perhaps for a bit broader of an audience. Thanks Shirley for this writing prompt.

    • Shirley Showalter on May 13, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      I love hearing more of your story each week, Audrey. We have so much in common! I wish I had time to write more, but I love how you combine the desire to leave a legacy with telling stories and playing. Hurrah!

  6. Marylin Warner on May 12, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    The balance of play with work, of hope with fear, of faith with doubt. In college, one of the topics–“Balancing Essentials”–dove full force into the deep end of the pool containing all of the combinations listed above.
    Excellent topic and video, Shirley, and the picture of you and Henry and friend is a touching photo of youthful play at its best.

    • Shirley Showalter on May 13, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Marylin, I’m glad you enjoyed the photo. It’s one of my favorites in my memoir Blush. My Mother was the photographer. She seemed to have a native sense of composition in many of the photos. One of the many playful “ahas” I had in writing.

      I’m so impressed that you thought about balancing the essentials as long ago as your college years! Some wise person designed that curriculum.

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