Category Archives: Archival Memoir Project

Moving Slowly To See What’s At Stake

If we could allow the pace of our meetings to slow down to the pace of our hearts, we might find genuine understanding.”
― Marion WoodmanComing Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul


I was moving fast dropping stakes by the newly planted trees. Suddenly I realized that if I were to slow down I would see better and avoid missing some of the newly planted trees that needed protection.


I’m shaping my life with greater ease. Putting things in place. Gaining more with less work.

When I go back to re-trace my steps,

I find paths that wander in many different directions.

No matter what path I’ve taken

I walked that path one playful-step-at-a-time.


What steps do I need to take to complete and publish my written memoir?

I’m moving slowly knowing that there is a lot at stake. To complete the manuscript and send off a version of my story to be published…

I’m exploring the package I am holding onto so tightly…

I’m re-defining what Completion means…

Comple-ment seems softer to me. about Relationship…

a companion or a thing that completes

I know the beginning and middle

the in-between and betwixt is easier for me.

How about you? How do you respond to COMPLETION?

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The Way to Live: Vulnerability

Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. ~Brene Brown

March 5th

my surrogate son’s 29th birthday. I’m en-couraged….

Photo Credit: Jen Adam

by recent research showing that mothers and their children carry each other’s cells throughout their lives. I haven’t seen my surrogate son since shortly after his birth. News of this research creates a feeling of connection that I can hold onto [alongside so many other birth mothers who haven’t been in touch with their children].

This same news also makes me feel more vulnerable somehow…

I’m pregnant and carrying this news but at the same time am no closer to knowing how he is, what his life has been like over the last 29 years.

Does he know our story and how he came to be?


I’ll be posting parts of my memoir on

and continuing to perform and help others create their own Archival Memoir Project.
The Archival Memoir Project is a visionary project that encourages people of all ages to claim what is unique about their personal story – and then share their story with others in a variety of playful and creative ways.

My personal “archival memoir project” includes a written memoir, performances, collection of images, dreams, and letters inspired by the birth of my surrogate son in 1987. A series of dreams and meaningful connections led me to the realization that my memoir was not meant to be a solo performance. Instead, I realized I was being called to tend a play-based, archival memoir project that will help others share their own personal and collective stories to create meaning and purpose in the lives of many individuals and communities. 

My project includes written memoir, images, and performance. Another project might include film, visual art, and music. Yet another might include drawings, puppets and poetry. Another, a scientific research project, dance and coloring books. There are so many ways a life can be told … come and explore and discover YOUR STORY. and its POSTPARTUM [or what you learned as a result of your experience, collecting of treasures, life experience].

Listen on ‘Creativity in Play’ as I share more about the Archival Memoir Project and Active Dreaming.

Archival Memoir Project Performance
So  real, embodied, playful story telling. Archetypal made tangible. You make it clear that getting in touch with, and living from the heart is natural and simple…. though quite hidden, and perhaps scary for most modern people…..  And a sometimes struggle, ….but something which can be taught/discovered and shared together, playfully and creatively. 
Here is my bravo…. but the story is ongoing…..I now have a deeper understanding of how playfulness can be a medium of understanding…. for one thing it can help us deal with the “scaries” as it lets us interact with ourselves…. and there are many more.
~Betsy Wetzig, Allentown, PA
Interested in joining an ‘Archival Memoir Project’ Group and create your own AMP? or would you prefer a customized play retreat just-for-you?
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What does Your Playful Spirit want to Mess Around with Next?

Customary ~according to usual practices of a set of circumstances

Customary ~regular~well-established

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Want to try turning your customary way of doing things into play?

What I’ve learned is that my life is lighter and less stressful when I turn what is ordinary, mundane, or even something I am not eager to do, or is challenging, or that I don’t feel good about into play. I laugh at myself a whole lot more and my days feel rich and alive because I’m fully into whatever I am doing.

When I take a walk or hike I play with abandon. I sing and create new melodies and lyrics as I  walk along, or pick out one thing to focus on and revel in it.

When I’m in my play studio and writing— I find that it’s not good for me to sit too long at the computer. I look for ways to get up and move. I pause, get moving, and wait for that next impulse. One hour becomes two….or if I only have a few minutes to write, I am focused and energized because I am playing…

When I’m working on something new that is technical or new to me I like to…

Take breaks outside to breathe deeply.

Call out to Mountain, Water, Sky.

Ground myself asking the Earth to support me.

Remember what has come before and write a short note in my journal to go back to later.

Draw a quick sketch in my visual journal.

Shake my rattles and play with new rhythms on my drum.

Archival Memoir Project (AMP): A 12-month Play-based, Creativity Group

Creating your own Archival Memoir Project is a way to move beyond the ordinary and share ‘what you are deeply into’, intimately involved in, curious about…where your heart lives with others.

My AMP continues to grow as I develop and become… Currently I am playfully re-writing my memoir’s manuscript. I would love to bring my archival memoir performances and workshops to women’s studies classes, and more…

In the near future I’ll be offering a 12-person ‘Archival Memoir Project’ group:

  • We’ll play as a group with our stories, collections, treasures, and lived experiences
  • We’ll record (write, draw, dance, paint, photograph, film, re-search…) dreams and feelings as we play and consider what we want to create.
  • We’ll choose the actions that we will take to create and publish our AMPs
  • We’ll share what we are creating with our friends, families, and communities.
  • We’ll explore ways to interweave our stories as individuals and as a group.

When I imagine our group I see us meeting in-person quarterly during our creative process. In between our in-person gatherings there will be a private Facebook group for us to share and receive help when needed.

Just a taste of what I am playing with… Interested?

I’d love to hear from YOU!

Share your Response in the Comments or Email me…

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My Play-Based Approach: Singing Silly Songs + Messing Around

When I am totally into everything I do! and ‘play in the everyday‘ my life is filled with joy, laughter, and gratitude! I love that! ~Mary Alice

Singing Silly Songs

While in Port Townsend recently with a friend I noticed a shop with lots of color in the window.

Do you want to go in Mary Alice?

The shopkeeper was playing Beatles songs written in a style meant for children. The first song immediately brought a huge smile to my face. No more monkeys jumping on the bed! 

For years on my daily walks I’ve sung to my dog (or the environment!) and created new tunes. Sometimes I take a tape recorder along. I love to sing and create lyrics and melodies. Usually the melody comes first and then the lyrics. Is that right?

For now I’m just making these songs up as I go…some older versions of my songs are recorded on the kind of audio tape we use to put in our answering machines to collect messages. Heavens!

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Messing Around

Messing around is a lot more fun than driving things ahead, focusing, or taking a linear approach. I know, you’re saying not a whole lot gets done, NOT MY EXPERIENCE


Some of favorite ways to mess around:

  • Making faces
  • Stomping in the mud
  • Dancing in the rain (not hard to come by in the Northwest)
  • Visual Journaling with Paints
  • Writing Whatever Comes…and then Messing with those Words Some More…

There are so many Ways to Play in the Everyday…some Silly, some Movin’, ALL full of Treasures & Meaning

Because I am fully committed to my play-based work and believe in the importance of play so strongly I keep going back to ‘sit in the chair’, ‘make that next connection’, ‘ask for help when I need support’, listen to the YES and dismiss the NO and…

I continue to be silly, mess around, laugh! embrace tearful moments, give voice to what matters. SWING! DANCE! SING! MOVE!

AND Continuing to Play with…

Archival Memoir Project (AMP)

My personal ‘archival memoir project’ (AMP) includes performance, images, dreams, letters, and written memoir. My memoir and its ‘postpartum’ (or the 4th stage of the birth process) are meant to be a developing story. What does it mean to give away too much? To abandon yourself? and then re-claim play and creativity?

One part of the developing story that I didn’t expect is the call that I hear to help others create their own AMPs. I’ve been listening to feedback from audiences following performances and asking myself some questions:

  • What are the array of collections, memories, and lived experiences that could be part of these AMPs?
  • What might these AMPs mean to individuals and to the collective?
  • How can these AMPs be shared with families and communities?

Two projects that are unfolding as part of my personal AMP are Forgiveness: Performance & WorkshopComposing a Creative Life: Aging & Late-Life Transformation. 

Have any Silly Songs to Share?

What are you Messing Around with?


Share your Experience in the Comments or Email Me… [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]


Intimate Sharing + Meaningful + Courageous


My dreams inspire me. Last night I dreamt of a new school opening. Other dreams come to help me see both where I am off-balance and where I sing!

My creator has been cranky demanding more time as I step into my play-based work and the art of playing in the everyday in new ways. So important to me! its real! Natural! I’m passionate about my work and committed to the call I feel to share the importance of our imagination, play, and creativity.

I’ve been journaling, making notes, diving into ‘ways to play’ with imagining and concrete planning (making some decisions about what to say YES to and what is a not-always-so clear NO). I’m stepping back again and again as I re-play old themes and rejuvenate them for a better fit.

Play in the Everyday: tiny inspirations fly in! 

In late October I set out to Connecticut to perform another version of my archival memoir story. This time round the images from my archival memoir project were in the backdrop as I shared the many stories within the story of my experience and its ‘postpartum’ [what I’ve learned from my experience and its ongoing treasures and gifts]. David Cherniske, improvisational musician, played a variety of instruments during the collaborative performance. As the stories I shared unfolded, Dave and I experienced a running conversation. A call-and-response. Story-Sound-Images.

Copy of Play=Peace Logo-3Three months later, I have the sense (and my dreams support my gut instinct) that I am moving into the second trimester of yet another pregnancy. I’ve been carrying the memories of my experience and all that I have written and dreamt since beginning the process of unraveling began. 1987. 1998. 2004. are important dates.

I am committed to completing and sharing the written memoir that is one part of my archival memoir project in 2016. I’m playing with sharing my memoir in a variety of forms. A handcrafted book with photos, a playful journal with decorations. Sharing parts of my memoir online as I re-vise and then publishing my memoir as a whole.

The process I am in as a play-based, depth-oriented writer is filled with promise.

Everyday there are challenges and good reasons to not write. I am trying out a few approaches to counter all the good reasons that keep me from what I love.

Play in the Everyday: Walk upstairs to my home studio. Its amazing what that does. Works like a charm!

Play in the Everyday: Take a walk to breathe and reflect. Physicality. I return to my home studio renewed and with many inspirations and more ideas! [choosing what idea to roll with is key here!]

Play in the Everyday: Pick up a book for inspiration. I have a whole library to choose from. I let my intuition guide me. Poets. Dreamers. Memoirs! Novels. Art books.

Play in the Everyday: Find new inspirations to tap into. There are so many people–those I know, those I don’t know, those who have passed on. Non-Human Animals, Nature. Characters in Stories that I Love. Films.

Play in the Everyday: Listen to my dreams. Dreams are an ongoing SOURCE.

Yep, everyday there are challenges and good reasons to not write. imagine that!

I’m on it!

Work with Me & Enjoy Your Playful Journey

Contact Me & We’ll Set Up a Time to Meet!

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