Category Archives: Creativity

Personal Story, Birth, and the Real Deal We Call Life

After years of writing my personal narrative, many deep, interwoven conversations, visual journaling, and performance…in less than a week…

I will say his name * meet him in-person * hold him in my arms.

January 23, 2017, on what would have been my mom’s 95th birthday, William called me. He told me how scared he was to leave a voice message asking me to call him. He asked me about his story, how he came to be.

Today I booked a flight to visit William in-person. Next week we will meet for the first time. He’s leaving the hospital after undergoing major surgery Monday evening. William’s cancer has moved from his skin, to his lungs, and now to his brain.

The phone rings and William says, They got it all.

He is hopeful and I am expectant once again.

The thing is, he is real to me now. For years, I have been using the phrase, my surrogate son. What a relief to be able to say his name, William, and know him as a person who loves to watch sports, wants to find work as a sports journalist, hike hundreds of trails.

Over the next few days, I will be gathering some of my journals, photos, and other treasures so that I can share them with William when we visit next week. Poems, memoir writing, research from my doctoral dissertation on surrogacy, performance-storytelling.

The first time we meet

Just making the reservations for my shuttle to the airport and flights was a struggle. Crying at the bank, at the pharmacy while trying to get through to the pharmacy clerk who is holding Michael’s medications post-stoke for ransom! Crying in the art studio while collaborating on a flyer for our fundraiser. I am tripping and almost fell yesterday because I have so much in my head and forgot about my feet. I keep reminding myself to ground. I’m wondering if I should rent a car but I am also concerned that I won’t be as focused as usual while driving the Los Angeles freeways.

Feeling the immediacy of the moment. I am grateful for the real deal, live life to the fullest!

I invite you to check in frequently here and on the Play=Peace blog.

Read the follow-up story Sit Back and Enjoy the Trip

Play and Relationships: Synchronicities & Communication

One evening, a couple of weeks ago, I watched ‘Forrest Gump’. I haven’t seen or really thought much about this film since it came out in 1981. The next day and ongoing over a couple of weeks, I started hearing Forrest’s name and “Run Forrest”. Not once, not twice, but multiple times.

Some examples:

  • On the ferry traveling to my daughter’s home for my grand-twins birthday party I heard a man say Forrest Gump’s name and then he yelled “Run Forrest, Run!”
  • During Sunday Morning NPR I listened to an interview with a singer-songwriter and heard her say, “Don’t Stop Running across the Finish Line”
  • “Keep Running!”
  • In an earlier podcast, I speak about how writer and creative coach, Julie Jordan Scott, used the metaphor of ‘crossing the finish line’ as a writing prompt during a recent Perioscope episode. I shared my writing following that episode. I drew myself crossing the finish line in my journal.

Now I see myself saying, I’m not Stopping Running across that Finish Line!

In a recent interview, Alan Alda, a well-known actor and writer, talked about communication. He reflected during the interview on how he was at one time talking with a woman and only seeing her as a ‘blob’. He thought he was attending to the person but discovered that he really was talking at her, not with her. He was not seeing her.

Synchronicities (meaningful coincidences) are all around us. However, if we are closed off, have our boundaries closed, are not receptive–we don’t notice and can’t see what is right in our space.

Real, deeply felt communication happens when we attend and are present to the other person’s needs.

Synchronicities and heart-felt connections are important parts of our lives that offer us opportunities for joy, meaning, optimal health, and real connection.

What synchronicities do you notice?

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

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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!

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

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.

 

 

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!?**#

 

Begin Doing What You Want to Do Now

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparking like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake… ~Sir Francis Bacon

I’m reading ‘The Vintage Years: Finding Your Inner Artist (Writer, Musician, Visual Artist) After Sixty’ by Francine Toder, PhD

Apparently when the author was well into her 60s she began to play the cello. In her book she tells the story of an 89-year-old woman who took part in Francine’s research project. In return for her participation this woman was given free cello lessons. Seems she took to playing cello and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I have been listening to fiddle music for years. Recently I started asking fiddlers how they began to play, what its like for them to jam with a group of other musicians, and what their advice is on getting started as a fiddler.

Just before Christmas I looked for a used fiddle at the local thrift store but no luck. Then, my daughter surprised me with a used fiddle for my birthday!

I’m all Swing, so playing the fiddle seems like a natural for me. I have played the piano and guitar a bit over the course of my life, even taken some lessons and played a couple of pieces in recital. Fiddle just seems like so much fun!

I talked to a few fiddle instructors locally. One of them said to me after listening to me talk about my long-standing desire to play the fiddle,

Mary Alice, I would just pick up the fiddle and play. Don’t worry about lessons for now. With your playful nature the best approach is for you to fiddle around. Later on you might want to take a lesson but for now just get the feel of the instrument, and play!


Whether its writing, fiddling, painting or any other form of play and creativity:

Begin Doing What You Want to Do Now