Category Archives: Play and Create

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.

 

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!?**#

 

My 7-Year Swing (Play) Cycle

The next 7 years is all Swing!

Swing is my home movement pattern which means that I am playful, people-oriented, collaborative, and interdisciplinary.

Developmentally I will be in FULL SWING for the next 7 years. I have been really revving up the PLAY in my life. It makes no matter what I am mucking about in, play is the way I perceive my world and the approach I take to just about everything from loading the dishwasher to completing the writing and edits for my memoir.

I love new starts. I am really in my element this go round and I’m anticipating some good things to come through PLAY.

Writing is one of the ways I play and I am looking forward to a cycle of deepening and the written word. I am finding that when I write in my visual journal there is no real separation between image and word. When I am writing I see images and when I am playing with photography I seem to match subject with word.

I am also playing with art-making. I am enrolled in Flora Bowley’s online e-course, The Creative Revolution.  I am playing with some new arts-based forms and materials. So far I have created a variety of patterned drawings with oil pastels and have completed a watercolor meditation. I have been going through my art supplies and went to the art store to purchase some acrylics and india ink. There is so much to play with I feel giddy.

I’m also beginning to play the fiddle. The fiddle is all SWING so its the perfect instrument for my musical foray. I haven’t yet engaged a fiddle instructor. My plan is to fiddle around for a while until and when I want to take lessons online or in person.

It is no surprise to me that I am completing my memoir and exploring publication options during my Swing cycle. For years, I have been periodically combing through my journals looking for patterns. Every day I am floored by my dreams and synchronicities assuring me that I am on the right path.

I am excited about new possibilities in writing, art-making, fiddling, and of course, PLAY!


A valuable resource for you to purchase and have on hand as a play-book is: Move to Greatness–Ginny Whitelaw & co-author, Betsy Wetzig explore the four movement patterns: thrust, shape, hang, and swing.

 

 

Stepping Stones

I believe that everything in life can be approached playfully.

Approaching life as a playful journey helps me to keep moving ahead especially when life is filled with major challenges or what my husband calls, anything that comes from left field (or the unexpected).

Do you see your life as an adventure that sets you on center stage creating positive change for yourself and others?

Visualize yourself walking down a path lined with stepping stones. At first, you find yourself in a garden filled with spring flowers. As you continue you find yourself at the top of a set of stairs. You stop for a minute to catch your breath and then you take one of many steps down the stone stairs. At the bottom of the stairs you see a large double, wooden door to your right. The door has antique handles. You step forward and open the door. Once inside you walk forward and see another passage to your left that takes you to a large stone-walled room. In the middle of the room there is a desk with a large, high-backed chair just right for you to sit in and write. You walk around the desk and sit in the chair. You look up and find that someone is approaching you.

Who is approaching?

How do you feel as you sit in the chair?

What are the stumbling blocks that have kept you from what you desire?

What steps can you take to move forward as a writer, as a playful spirit, as a creator?

 

 

 

What You Choose to Write + Create + Share Reveals So Much

My choices have led me to the development of my life’s view. I believe that play can be instilled in every moment of our lives and is the portal to creativity.

When I chose to be a surrogate mother for my psychotherapist and her husband I had no idea that what I experienced during the conception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum would be so life altering.

Postpartum, Act 4

The story I have been writing in a variety of forms, for well over 10 years, continues well beyond the birth and relinquishment of my surrogate son. My story is really our story, a story that offers in its postpartum, a life filled with play and creativity.

Now that my son and I have made contact by phone and I have shared my version of our story with my son, I believe more than ever, that our story continues to develop in ways that are meaningful and filled with purpose.

My core story starts with a woman who gives her Self, her Soul away. Her initial intention is to Help an Other. She doesn’t consider what life will be like after her agreement has come to its natural conclusion. She is a woman of integrity who never gives a thought to not fulfilling her end of the bargain.

It is not until just after the Birth of her Child that She Recognizes what her Contract is really about. Creating * a Newborn * and a New Life for Herself and Others, a Life of Giving and Receiving the Gifts of Play and Creativity.

The day I returned home from the hospital after giving birth to my surrogate son, I recognized I was being called to Become…

I felt stirred to action. To help my Self and Others:

  • To Play
  • To Create
  • To Laugh
  • To Wholeness
  • To Individuate

I continue to feel the pull to act, to become, to perform my life, to practice the art of playing in the everyday so that I can create a life that comes from the heart and help others on their journeys toward individuation.

What is the personal experience you are choosing to write about?

What are you creating in our life?

How do you feel about sharing your story, your creations, and who you are becoming…?

 

FAQ: 21-Day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Challenge

Thank you for participating in the 21 Day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Challenge.

PLEASE NOTE**You will receive 2 separate emails each day of the 21-day Challenge– (Prompts & Blog Posts)

Not a participant? Wanna play? You can join here. (It’s free.)

The following info will help you get the most out of the experience, and hopefully answer your questions.

If you still have questions about the challenge, please ask in the comments below.

I suspect you may be here because you are missing some of the writing prompts sent by email. *JUST BREATHE*

Missing Emails

It’s a frustrating fact that email can go randomly missing, or not be delivered.

Here are some things you can do improve email deliverability:

Add my email address to your address book:

maryalice@playequalspeace.com

this will train your email to go into your inbox, instead of spam or elsewhere.

Not sure how to do this? No worries. It only takes a minute, and this online guide (with pictures for your email provider!) shows you how.

Gmail users: Check your promotions tab or spam folder. If my email landed there, drag the email into your inbox.

  1. If you don’t see your daily prompt email:
    Please check your spam folder, or the promotions tab if you use gmail. 99% of the time it’s hiding in there. 
    If you don’t find confirmation after checking junk and promotions, it’s possible the email address was typed in wrong. That happens a lot, especially when typing on your phone, etc. So try signing up again, and triple-checking your email address. If the the sign up button on your device of choice isn’t working–Try signing up from a different device.
  2. Make sure my email address is in your address book, instructions are above.
  3. Join the 21-Day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Facebook Group – there are lots of other group members who will be happy to help out and share missing prompts. Just ask!
  4. Visit the Play=Peace Facebook page, where I share the blog posts with journal prompts. You don’t need to be a Facebook user to see my page.To make sure you can see all of my Facebook posts, Click the LIKE button, and when you hover over the FOLLOWING button on the top menu, make sure SEE FIRST is checked.
  5. Pop over to my ‘Create a Life that Comes from the Heart’ blog, where you’ll find each day’s blog post & journal prompts.

Important: Treat the course emails like a gift card. If you lose them, they won’t be replaced.

It is recommended you save these emails, print them out if you want to make sure you have access to all 21 images & prompts or purchase:

Start Writing Your Memoir’ e-Book
Buy Now

*Thank you* for understanding that I am sharing this challenge with lots of other people and am a mentor, creative coach, writer, and artist without a staff — so I won’t respond to requests to replace missing 21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge emails.

I want you to get each and every prompt, but sometimes email just isn’t delivered.

That’s why I’ve got you covered by posting on my blog, in the 21-day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Facebook Group and on the Play=Peace Facebook Page

Fair enough? 

We limit screen time in my family which leaves us more time to play and create in a variety of ways!!

Supplies:
All you need to begin is a notebook and something to write with.

Of course, you can embellish with crayons, paint, drawings, photographs. Some great resources can be found on Pinterest ‘Visual Journaling’ Boards.

The ‘Create a Life that Comes from the Heart’ Blog:

There’s a blog post to accompany each of the images and prompts. You will receive each day’s blog post in a separate email. Print, add to your Pinterest boards, or Share as you desire.

Get all the images and prompts: Start Writing Your Memoir e-Book  was designed to make your writing even easier. Buy Now

Download, printout, and use like a playbook or cut out and add to any notebook.

Here’s what you can expect from joining the 21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge:

Registering for this project automagically gets you on my ‘Play Notes’ list.

I send out play-based, depth-oriented ‘play notes’, blog posts, and resources by email.

As a subscriber you will receive information on working-with-me as a mentor and creative coach, workshops and events, and Play=Peace Shop products that are being offered. ‘Play Notes’ subscribers are the first to hear about early bird discounts.

Sharing & Connection

You are invited to share your experience in the ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge in the comments on the ‘Create a Life that Comes from the Heart’ Blog.

Use the hashtag #StartYourMemoir in your blog and social media posts so we can find each other and build our creative community.

Join our closed FB Group for our Challenge here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/startyourmemoir/

Questions? Comments? I hope so!

If you want to share about your experience or ask questions, please comment on the ‘Create a Life that Comes from the Heart’ blog or go to the Facebook group to post.

If you have unanswered questions – add them in the comments on this page.

I’m open to questions as you participate in this project. Due to number of participants, I kindly ask for two considerations:

1. Please ask your questions in the comments area of the blog posts (this will avoid questions getting lost in email)

2. I won’t answer each question personally, but instead will answer questions in our 21-Day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Challenge Facebook group.

Scrolled Down Without Reading? 

Important: Treat the daily challenge emails like a gift card. If you lose it, it won’t be replaced.

As I won’t be able to answer requests to replace missing emails, so please check out the above options for getting prompts you may be missing.

*Thank you* for understanding that I am sharing this challenge with a large group and am a playful mentor, creative coach, writer, and artist without a staff. 

Yes, I totally repeated some stuff in here, because. You know.

Thank you again for being here.

The 21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge is my playful passion, and I’m so thrilled to be sharing it with you!

The Dance of ShadowPlay: Creating Meaningful Change

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For 21 years I began to receive recurring dreams where I am criticized, dismissed, and ignored. These dreams include characters who represent members of my play community in waking life.

Being part of of my tribe, these folks are like family to me, and so, the pain at being dismissed lives in my body and influences my everyday life.

Over the years I’ve treated these dreams like bad food — better to eliminate the poison and try to not eat that same poison again. I have a ‘from the toes’ reaction — Shadow — a part of my psyche that is uncomfortable — and so — I flee!

Never daunted my Shadow arrives again for another visit.

I journal regularly and record my dreams. Taking action to honor my dreams is important to me. Unlike other dreams that I receive as gifts, I’ve been dismissing my recurring dreams because the betrayal, rejection, and criticism I feel when I wake from these dreams is painful.

What I dismiss insists!

Not only do these folks appear in my night dreams but in my waking dreams as well. I am reminded of them in social media, in emails that I receive, and in daily conversations. For the most part I haven’t played with these folks in-person for years. Nevertheless, when I see their photo online or hear their name the feelings of betrayal, rejection, and dismissal are very real.

I’m ready to meet my Shadow and play. To that end, I’m going to be sharing my recurring dreams (in non-sequential order) and explore ways to partner with the characters that appear in my recurring dream in a dance of forgiveness.

1.) Dream — Critical Kris Kringle

I’m at home with Kris. She is there to criticize me. I am holding one large sheet of pastel blue paper with comments and notes. Kris finds one other large sheet of pastel violet paper. She says, “it says that you tucked your chin in” — she follows me around and criticizes that posture and other things about me.

I’ve had enough and go outside. She follows and continues to criticize me holding both of the large sheets of paper as she walks behind me.

It occurs to me following my dream that many birds tuck their bills into their shoulder feathers for protection.

Aha!

Some of the characters in my recurring dream return often to criticize me. However, as these dreams have continued to arrive, in some plots I am affirmed and applauded for my efforts by the same characters who have betrayed or dismissed me.

Being supported by the very characters who have wounded me gives me hope that there is a way to find resolution, a new dance, a new way to partner.


2.) Dream—Poem Speaking To Me

I am with other women including Cindy. I am running around doing things. Cindy is about to leave. She comes up to me and as I move forward to give her a hug, she says,

“What are you doing, you aren’t doing anything!” I say, “what do you mean?”

I know when I ask that question that I have impacted many lives. (I stand up for myself and don’t take in what Cindy is saying.)

There is another woman there who comes up to me and hands me a beautifully crafted poem that she has written. The poem takes the form of a chart with lines that are very exacting. She reads the long, involved poem to me in Dutch. Another women asks if she can substitute uncommon words for the Dutch words being used so that more women can understand. I enjoy what she has written.

Clearly I’ve influenced this female poet. She’s brought her poem to me to read and share what she has learned from me. I’m appreciative and ‘all ears’ realizing the depth of her poem and the sincerity of her impulse.

Could I have a copy? (Dare I ask for one?)

Following my dream I connect the dream’s themes with my memoir writing.

Cindy (Shadow figure) is a woman who has tremendous influence over me. In this dream she offers me the opportunity to stand up for myself after being criticized. Her words do not support me so I release them.

*[Cindy in waking life criticized and shamed me in front of my tribe. She wounded me and left me in a pool of tears on multiple occasions many years ago.]

In my night dream I am able to *release what doesn’t serve me and take in what nurtures and supports the sharing of my gifts with others]

Another woman poet (Shadow figure) helps me to see what I have *given to others. One choice I can continue to make is to be gentle and open, be vulnerable (while standing up for my natural Self).

[I was a surrogate mother for my psychotherapist and her husband in 1987 and gave them a newborn son. My experience as a surrogate and the deep and ongoing longing that I carry has helped me accept loss and live life playfully and creatively].

*In this dream Shape takes poetic form.


3.) Dream—Three out of Six Hours

I am in a big, rectangular-shaped studio with a dance floor. I am dancing with a large number of women are moving around the dance floor for the first time. Cindy is dancing. I move to her and lightly pull on her clothing. She moves backwards and then forwards with me. I feel in flow and went to keep moving for the three hours we have the space for (we have the space for 3 out of 6 hours). Some of the women on the dance floor walk through the door to the outside. They don’t want to continue dancing-playing. I think that they do not have-know the basic forms to continue to play and enjoy themselves.

In this dreamscape I initiate a dance with Cindy. In other dreams Cindy criticizes me. Here I pull on her clothing gently. We dance as a duet, a shadow-dance. I feel in flow. free * authentic * in the moment

There are women who do not want to play, to dance. They leave through an open door. I want to dance in the fullness of the time allowed.

I can continue to play, to dance because I know the basics, the basic forms. Now I can play and dance in the fullness of the three (3) hours given.

Beginning, Middle, End

Body, Soul, Spirit. 

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Memoir Project: Dusting Myself Off, Putting my High Boots on & Going Back In!

After a lot of procrastination I have published three excerpts from my memoir in revision. I’ve also shared several writer’s notes over the last few days. You can find Memoir Project entries HERE and a couple Writer’s Notes HERE

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I had full intentions this morning to continue to write and revise my memoir’s manuscript this morning but I was stopped in my tracks by an event yesterday that kept me awake last night. It all started with:

You Should Have…

After tossing and turning in bed and making every effort to disavow what is roaming around inside of me I decided to put my high boots on and step back Into the arena. The arena where I bring my vulnerability and courage.

Vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage. ~Brene Brown

I realized this morning as I sipped my coffee that I have been in that same arena immeasurable times in my life and that over the last few days I have been standing naked and left my armor behind. 

I’m showing up in a big way.

and so are all of my anxieties and concern about being killed on the field as I share my story and who I am. The real deal with no armor to shield me.

Yesterday I stepped out and was hit by the the same criticisms and shame that have kept me from writing and sharing what I am creating over the course of my lifetime. I asked myself this morning,

How is this critic similar to other critics that have voiced their disapproval of how I look, act, what I do, who I am??

I came across a photo of Mary Alice (circa 1954). I am just over a year old, standing with my Easter bonnet, dress, and coat. Looking ahead in a focused way. Even then I had a sense of who I am suppose to be and started to give away the parts of myself that didn’t fit that ideal.

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Today I’m breathing deeply in a fetal position on the floor, dusting myself off, and continuing to create and share. On this Autumnal Equinox I feel like I am falling, breaking down. As I continue to play and create my life and life’s work I give myself permission to stay home for stretches of time and also to explore outside the edges of my experience.

I will continue to create and share here, on the Play=Peace blog, and on Medium knowing that as, Brene Brown, says,

if you step into the arena, you’re going to get your ass kicked

Every one of you has a Critic’s seat reserved in that same arena. See you there. Will you be fully armored or nakedly sharing your vulnerability and gifts with us all?