All posts by Mary Alice Long

Mary Alice Long is the creator of Play=Peace™. She is a play-based, depth-oriented guide, writer, and speaker. Mary Alice offers individual mentoring for women.

Our Playful Impulse is to Create

When inspiration wakes me and the impulse to create is present its best for me to ‘get on with it’ and move into the playful impulse to create.

My usual practice when I wake up in the middle of the night and remember a dream is to write it down in my journal. When I go back to sleep without recording my dream I often lose the threads of my dream story and landscape and as a result I am unable to play with my dream gift later on during my waking hours.

Over the years I have created play lists of what I want to try on in my life and have written hundreds and hundreds of pages long-hand in my journals. These journals fill my bookshelves and drawers. My computer’s backup drive has many files stored there with writing and projects that I have yet to share.

Do you come up with creative ideas that don’t see the light of day? or How do you take action so that your creative ideas can be shared with others?

Play is the portal to creativity. When we honor our playful impulse to create we are honoring our playful, creative Self.

Listen to The Art of Playing in the Everyday Part 7: Our Playful Impulse to Create:

Want to learn more or work with me as a mentor and creative coach? I’d love to talk with you!

Sign-up for ‘Play Notes‘, our bi-weekly newsletter and receive a free downloadable copy of  ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-book.

Please leave a comment following this post/podcast or post a comment on the Play=Peace Facebook page.

Its Summer: A Playful Season of Celebration and Transformation

Its Summer!

Are you feeling confidence and feel a new sense of clarity in every cell of your body?

I hope so. Life follows you wherever you are and in whatever season of change you find ourself. Challenges and difficulties may still be with you. What can you do?

Can you feel abundant while still facing life changes (illness, death in the family, divorce, sudden change,…)?

I believe you can…

Like many of you, in my personal life there are many challenges and at the same time a feeling of great abundance and gratitude.

I am recovering as a woman who gave her Soul away as the result of a core experience. I reclaimed my Soul through the depth-oriented, play-based work of listening to my dreams and taking playful action in response to dream guidance, journaling, the wisdom of nature, PLAYING * CREATING * BECOMING… and yet, as my life story unfolds there are many unanswered questions. Awe, yes, the questions!

There are many ‘ways to play’ and celebrate the everyday moments of your life this summer. Gardening, playing outdoors by hiking, camping, walking in your neighborhood; traveling to new locales or visiting towns or natural settings nearby your home, attending community festivals, parades, outdoor concerts and other community gatherings. Depending on your location you may want to spend time outdoors during the morning hours when it is cooler. Self-care remains important. Journaling or art-making while sitting on your patio or at a picnic table at the park can be relaxing and bring you new insight during this season of change and transformation.

Enjoy your summer and allow time for the ripening of who you are becoming.

Listen to Summer is a Season of Play and Celebration:

Want to learn more or work with me as a mentor and creative coach? I’d love to talk with you!

Sign-up for ‘Play Notes‘, our bi-weekly newsletter and receive a free downloadable copy of  ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-book.

Please leave a comment following this post/podcast or post a comment on the Play=Peace Facebook page.

Even in Difficult Times There is Joy

Everyone of us experiences life challenges and difficulties, big and small. You might feel irritable or tearful as I do at the moment. Whatever the challenge, choosing to bring a playful attitude and some playful tools into the mix can make a huge difference in the quality of life and help you to move forward and continue to embrace what is important in your life.

Today, I am choosing to write, meditate, utilize what I know about the merits of play breaks and movement to help me stay in the flow as I work on some important projects and writing in my play-based, depth-oriented work.

What are the daily challenges that you face in our life?

Are you currently in the midst of a huge challenge in your life (divorce, death in the family, moving to a new home, graduation, birth or adoption of a new family member, …)?

What are some of the ways that you might play in the everyday with your challenges?

If you need help, please let me know. (see how to contact me below).

 

Want to learn more or work with me as a mentor and creative coach? I’d love to talk with you!

Sign-up for ‘Play Notes‘, our bi-weekly newsletter and receive a free downloadable copy of  ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-book.

Please leave a comment following this post/podcast or post a comment on the Play=Peace Facebook page.

 

Grief Has No Time Table: Patterns of Remembering & Awakening

When I wrote this post in 2016 I hadn’t yet recognized that the patterns in my dreams were giving me a ‘heads up!’  letting me know that my surrogate son would be calling in the new year!

Resource: Uma Girish interviewed me recently as part of her ‘Grammar of Grief’ series. I invite you to listen to our interview.

June 24, 2016 Dream:

GUIDELINES TO HELP ME PASS THROUGH A DOOR TO MY MEMORY

I’m in an Alzheimer’s facility. My sister, Patty, is standing beside me. She is a tall, big woman (my sister in waking life looks very different from this dream figure representing my sister, shadow). I’m wondering when Michael is going to come visit me at the Alzheimer’s facility. A female staff member is ready to go home. It is just about 6pm. As she prepares to leave she grabs her black purse and slings it over her left shoulder. I talk with her briefly about whether I can walk outside. I don’t know the rules or guidelines yet.

The words that call me are:

  • separated from Michael
  • what are the guidelines
  • passing through the door to the outside
  • standing beside me
  • ready to go home
Credit- Gary Hamburgh
Elwah

Credit- Gary Hamburgh

I received my dream after asking for dream guidance. My dream stays with me and is helping me to re-member the importance of what is just outside my door, through the portal:

IMG_2981
Hurricane Ridge Road

July 3, 2016 Dream

RETURNING TO GET WHAT I NEED 

I’m walking down a paved urban sidewalk. I see three yellow school buses coming my way up the hill. Looks like I will miss the bus because everything I need is at home. I jay walk across the busy street (while being careful not to be hit) and make my way back to the right side. Looks like I will have to drive to school after I retrieve what I need at home. 

Memoir & Ambiguous Loss 

I won’t see him again or I may

Pauline Boss is an expert in ambiguous loss. She works with people following events like 911, Japan’s Tsunami, and other life changing losses like divorce and adoption,  In her On Being interview with Krista Tippett, The Myth of Closure, Pauline says:

  • there is no such thing as closure
  • the media does great harm to people when they write or talk about closure
  • grief has no timetable

Pauline also talks about how people cope when there is no funeral to go to or a place to visit after the death of a loved one. [someone is missing but may be found, a child is adopted and the birthmother may see him again].

It helps to be able to say:

I won’t see him again or I may

Everyone of us has experienced losses that are a part of the fiber of our being.

Carl Jung wrote about the tension of the opposites

When you can say, “I won’t see him (her) again but I may”, and hold that tension you can unite the two in a creative, transformative way.

Inconsolable Grief

When I started writing this post in 2016 I hadn’t yet seen the patterns in my dreams calling me home.

Patterns that I recognize about how I am developing. Who I am Becoming.

Home is where I write and re-member my own inconsolable grief. My own sense of loss following the adoption of my surrogate son.

Home is the Olympic Peninsula. The place where I want my ashes scattered. Where I want my children and grandchildren to remember their Mom and Nana.

Home is where my dreams reside and I re-member what I am called to BECOME.


Thank you for showing up and being here. I’d love to hear from you. I never know where my writing will take me when I begin any one post. The big ‘C’ words, closure and completion, have been replaced with focus and freedom.

Some questions to consider. I’ll be standing right beside you as we consider these questions together…

  • Are their patterns that you have found through your journaling, understanding of your movement styles, dreams, or through your relationship with nature that you recognize as helpful guides in your development?
  • Is closure possible after the loss of a loved one who you will not see again? or after the loss of a marriage or adoption of a child?
  • Does our ability to bring closure affect our ability to play and create?
  • What happens when something loss is found? How does that change who you are becoming?

Want to learn more or work with me as a mentor and creative coach? I’d love to talk with you!

Sign-up for ‘Play Notes‘, our bi-weekly newsletter and receive a free downloadable copy of  ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-book.

Please leave a comment following this post/podcast or post a comment on the Play=Peace Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A NEW SERIES: The Art of Playing in the Everyday & Writing

I am starting a new ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ series today. My goal is to help you understand what is meant by ‘the art of playing in the everyday’ and what benefits you will gain by immersing yourself in the practice of playing in the everyday in our own life.

I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment following this post, contribute a post on the Play-Peace Facebook page, write me at maryalice@playequalspeace.com or call/text me at 206/200-4542

My first podcast is on The Art of Playing in the Everyday & Writing:

Listen to Play=Peace Podcasts:

Want to learn more? Sign-up for ‘Play Notes‘, our bi-weekly newsletter and receive a free downloadable copy of  ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-book

Mary Alice Long, PhD is a play-based, depth-oriented mentor, creative coach, and writer. Call me to find out more about how you can work/with me! You can phone me/text at 206/200-4542

Wonder, What is Hidden, What Will Emerge this Spring

When I climb to 5,242 feet, the wind reminds me about momentum and my desire to keep going…

the voices keep shouting their bad advice

I keep going. I know what I must do.

21 inches of new snow has fallen. My snowshoes sink deeply as I create a pathway through the subalpine firs. I stop frequently and am aware just how alive I feel in the midst of such

Beauty. Presence. Presents.

What happens when I have that sinking feeling that something isn’t right? I shut down or take a few awkward steps.

I am hungry and take a bite of nourishment. I am carrying burdens– a pack with necessary gear and stuff I lug around with me all the time. To what end? Can I give all of it to the trees who know so much about shedding when their limbs can no longer bear it?

All around me I hear communities of winged ones, four-leggeds who live under the snow, and insects.

The seekers. The survivors. The sensate.

I plop myself down while I snack. I feel closer, sheltered, grounded. I want to be part of, not separated from. The white all around me provides light. The air clears the way. Instead of wanting to push forward I want to

slow down and listen, deepen, connect with life.

I don’t have my journal or watercolors but I have my phone camera. I start to capture or 

I make an attempt to capture images, the moment, reverie, where I came from, where I am going, what my heart wants to sing, what my gut wants me to know.

So many have been here before me. I am surrounded by my ancestors. Not just two-legged. Ancestors come in many forms. They are all present. This place. I am here to understand and communicate. Dreaming comes easily here. I sink further into the deepening of who I am becoming and what I am called to offer.

In this moment, when I learn of the unwelcome news that Michael’s  P.E.T. scan shows another hot spot (cancer), that my spouse will need surgery–the icycles are hard and frozen. or so it seems. I breathe and remind myself that there is fluidity in all of life. Certainly I am a fluid being. I want to be fluid. The drops of water on my branches are in flow, a stream of consciousness, a river of life.

I am grateful for the inspiration of Hurricane Ridge, a mountainous area in the Olympic National Park, the poems of Mary Oliver, and my 25-year love and creative partner, Michael.

 

 

So Go Create.

This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love

and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know

because the beauty is in the act of doing it.

Not what it can lead to.

This is for the times I lose myself while writing, singing, playing
and no one is around and they will never know
but I will forever remember
and that shines brighter than any praise or fame or glory I will ever have,

My body remembers what it feels like to write in flow….in my play studio or outdoors sitting on a log in the forest or on the beach. While writing I am also having a conversation with my playful, creative Self about the joy I am feeling. In the past I would tense when I realized my Friend was slipping away. Now I know that She will return to offer me more moments of joy as a writer.

I remember dancing solo in the middle of a group of dancers on a studio floor. Suddenly I felt the sensation that I was free!  I traveled to destinations I had never visited before. My movements were effortless. 

I remember leading a group ritual and a young woman in the group called out for us to move to the deck facing west to watch the sunset. I walked out on the deck with others in the group and I started to sing…effortlessly my voice raised itself in what was to me a melodious sound filled with light energy.

I remember painting with watercolors just after my breast cancer treatment. The colors I choose and the images that form are not prescribed but come out of the moment of inspiration and reflection. 

This is for you who write or play or read or sing
by yourself with the light off and door closed
when the world is asleep and the stars are aligned
and maybe no one will ever hear it
or read your words
or know your thoughts
but it doesn’t make it less glorious.
It makes it ethereal. Mysterious.
Infinite.

I am remembering Rumi’s,

Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.

Writing in the evening, hmmm?  I am a morning person. I love the quiet of the morning which offers me an opportunity to begin my day slowly, reflectively. I walk up the stairs to my play studio in our 100- year-old home and I close the door. In the morning or evenings often I can see the stars or the moon rising from behind a cedar tree or playing peek-a-boo with drifts of clouds. When I sit down to write sometimes I sit in my rocker and sometimes at my desk in front of my laptop. My words tumble out using pen or my fingers to tap on the keyboard. As a writer I am checking in with my morning and evening body and e-motion-al rhythms. I write when I am feeling playful or depressed, tearful; resistant or receptive. 

For it belongs to you and whatever God or spirit you believe in
and only you can decide how much it meant
and means
and will forever mean
and other people will experience it too
through you.
Through your spirit. Through the way you talk.
Through the way you walk and love and laugh and care

When I write, dance, paint, share stories, play the fiddle as a beginner, lead a workshop, perform, learn something new, deal with a prickly issue, face my dragons…I am practicing ‘the art of playing in the everyday’. In my world view, everything can be playful. Play and Creativity go together. Can’t have one without the other. 

So go create.

Write, paint, sing, make something, relate, improvise, share stories, innovate, problem solve, re-search, and choose to act in ways that lead to meaningful change.

Be You, Love You

When I overdo things I find that at some point I have to back track and re-group.

My home pattern energetically is Swing and I love diversity and playing with interdisciplinary ideas. I fully embrace my propensity for multiplicity and my very human need for nurturing.

Nurturing Self

Years of struggle, dips, and turns have led me to the realization that I can rely on my ability to nurture myself, to give myself what I need.

I spent the last week with 3 of my 5 grandchildren–Chase & Jenny (7) and Bailey (2). I love them dearly and we have great fun playing together. In fact, they are my play mentors!

Our days were busy with trips to school and daycare, meals, homework, and playing outdoors at the park. While the kids were at school and after they went to bed for the night I dove into my work–writing, planning, and creating. I am super excited about Flora Bowley’s ‘Creative Revolution’ e-Course and I brought along my memoir’s edited manuscript, a few books to read, and a huge DESIRE TO CREATE.

Today I have a runny, stuffy nose and achy body. I am staying home knowing that my body is calling me to slow down and rest following an intensive week. I realized during the week spent at my daughter’s that I was feeling frustrated. My creative muse is calling and I want play with the creative exercises, paint, try out some new art materials, meditate, dance, listen to some great music ++ I am committed to completing my memoir and sending a book proposal off to a publisher and literary agent.

Whew!

During the week I was aware of two strong feelings:

  1. This time with my grandchildren is precious.
  2. I want to spend time creating.

Push & Pull

So today I am nurturing my body, spirit, soul, heart. All of me.

I’m writing and playing with paint.

I’m musing and exploring passages from books that call me to open them.

What about you? How are you nurturing your writer? your artist?

What is your creative muse saying to you?

What one thing do you need today?

Write Badly

I am drawn to writers and artists with imperfect styles and quirky combinations of form.

My memoir is not written in a linear fashion. Instead, it is a juxtaposition of story, letters, and dreams.

I have any number of books in my library that I love because I can start on any page and dive right in at that point without skipping a beat.

I’m really having fun with this!

Playing with writing tools and materials…a variety pens, pencils, notebooks, journals. Watercolor paper…watercolor paper of different sizes or canvases to write on and then add paint, oil pastels. Trying out new materials that I have never or infrequently used–like using a feather or a stick from the beach or woods to paint words on a canvas…well, I have all the permission in the world (my own!) to go wild and just play for play’s sake!

I’ve started to intentionally try to write badly….to let colors run together. Lets see–what colors am I drawn as I sit looking at a palette of watercolor or acrylic paints. Who says this color goes with that.

Who says that prose needs to be written this way and poetry doesn’t include long sentences that run together??

I remember…attending a weekend poetry workshop a number of years ago. The poet leading the workshop brought along her publication filled with her poetry. She used her poetry as the model for how we should all write poetry. When I talked to her individually about my poetics at the time she said, “oh, this is lyrical.”  [I took her statement “oh, this is lyrical” as a HUGE CRITICISM and stopped writing poetry for a while.]

Now I intentionally write bad poetry. My own unique form of poetics. I still attend poetry workshops from time to time. The difference between now and when I was told, “oh, this is lyrical” is that I enjoy my style, sharing my unique voice, and I have learned that ‘not all criticisms are worth being listened to and acted on.’

I have a lot to learn about bad writing, moving counter to the music, or letting colors run together as I paint. I’m excited about the many possibilities that will rise up as part of that learning curve.

Want to give bad writing a try?

Pick up a pen, pencil, paper, notebook, or journal…

Start writing with the intention of writing badly…notice what happens.

There are no limits or rules for what materials you can use…

If you want, add a splash of paint, paste an image or two into the mix that you have torn out of a magazine, doodle, draw a quick sketch and add some more bad writing.

I would love to hear how this experiment turns out for you. I’m excited!

p.s. this blog post is bad writing!?**#

 

Birth is a Natural Process: Breathe & Release

When women are giving birth in the hospital they are often told to hold their breath and PUSH WITH FORCE.A  holistic approach to birthing calls for relaxation, breathing, and release during a time of intensity and swift change.

When I try to push through as a means to an end my efforts ultimately fail me. I feel more in synch when I release what doesn’t serve me and instead embrace what feels natural.

There are so many times in my life when I have pushed myself to do something even when another part of me was saying, REST, BREATHE, AND RELEASE.

It’s getting easier to see the signs (RED FOR STOP) that tell me to slow down, breathe, reassess.

  • tension
  • feeling at loose ends
  • unsettled
  • scratchy throat
  • headache
  • frustrated
  • and more…

I can also see the signs that tell me, it’s a GO! MOVE AHEAD WITH EASE…

  • joy
  • energetic
  • passionate
  • in flow

What are your GO and STOP signs?