Category Archives: Writing

Writing Process: Lets Lick the Words from Our Fingers

One can’t be an expert in process. By its very nature process can’t be mastered. Because it’s not finished. And who knows what will happen next? ~Nancy Mairs, Ordinary Time

I have years of writing stored in my journals and in my computer files. (Maybe you can relate)

While working on my memoir manuscript the other day a question came to me,

If my writing hasn’t been published, is someone reading it?

If it’s true that we live multiple existences in parallel universes then it is possible that my writing in another sphere is being read and even widely distributed.

My night and waking dreams have convinced me that I actually know very little of what is possible. Could it be that the characters in a variety of dreamscapes (both my own and others around the world) are not only reading my writing but helping me to re-write my life stories?

As Nancy Mairs wrote, who knows what will happen next?

Process has no ending. I recognize this even as I work to complete my memoir, I Would Have Named Him Peter.

I write everyday. I start each day handwriting in my journal. I keep my pen moving across the page filling 2-3 pages of my journal or more. My morning writing is a spilling out of whatever is inside me that wants to show up on the page. My dreams are integrated into the body of my daily journal and visual journaling.

In the last year I have been writing in short bursts of 5 minutes. This practice has increased my understanding of the value of being consistent in my writing and has spilled over into other areas of my life. For example, I set the timer for 5, 10, or 30 minutes to organize my studio, add to my visual journal, paint, or do the laundry. If suddenly my puppy, Will, needs my attention or I am distracted from my writing for any number of reasons (happens right?) I can easily stop and shift gears knowing that I can go back to my 5-minutes of writing when I have tended to the matter at hand.

At this point in my memoir writing process I am deepening, shaping, and completing.

I don’t know what will happen next. Isn’t that part of the fun of writing and creating a life?

I hope you will follow along as I discover what’s next in the next autumn, winter, spring and summer of my life. I would love to share those life experiences with you.

 

 

 

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

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.

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

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?

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.

 

 

The Gift of Your Unique Voice

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King

Today I am finding it difficult to get to the point where I can dive in and engage in my writing practice. Often I start writing in my journal and at some point my writing turns in a way that tells me I am in flow and going for it.  I can feel the difference between the start of writing and a deepening in the way my pen feels in my hand pressed to paper or how my fingers fly across the keyboard.

Since that flow is not happening right now I think I will approach my writing counter-intuitively.

What if I don’t care about creating meaning for others as a writer?

What if I am only sharing my writing for ego’s sake and don’t see any higher purpose in the words I scribble or type on the page?


I’m struggling to write and that struggle is even more so when I consider writing without regard to the call I feel as a writer and artist to help others on their playful, individuation journeys.

The secret is to release, start over again and again, and give voice to what matters.

Some writing prompts to consider using:

When I release I…

I am struggling to …

When I stay with my writing (creative) practice I…

My unique voice in the world is…

Seasons of Change: Stillness, New Growth, Abundance, Harvest

Winter is the season of stillness. For many of us it is a time of slowing down and renewal.

The seasons of winter, spring, summer, and autumn do not necessarily match what we are feeling in the depths of our soul. It is winter but I am feeling more like summer.

I am celebrating a recent phone call from my surrogate son and the opportunity I was given to help him learn about his story and fill a gap in his life that can now be healed and transformed.

I am actively working on completing my memoir, I Would Have Named Him Peter, for publication and continue to be engaged in the larger memoir project which includes my written memoir, performance, images, dreams, and letters.

I am creating new programs that fill me with anticipation in what is to be…moving ahead with a joyful heart this winter knowing that I am exactly where I need to be, attending to what I am called to offer through my play-based, depth-oriented writing and practice.

If you were to choose the season you feel most alive in now, which season would that be?

What can that season help you understand about your writing and your unique playful journey?

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…?