Memoir Project: The Next Chapter

Summer has brought with it attention to healing and recovery. What supports me is injured. I’m keeping what benefits me and letting go of what no longer serves. I’ve been artificially holding up my upper torso. Dropping into my natural stance and walk makes me feel much more at ease.

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I’ve been holding on for almost 30 years. Three decades reminding me of the mantra of the rosary–a prayer.

I’m praying, my prayer is one of release.

I am writing in two columns as I journal. The second queue includes feelings and body intelligence that I note as I write freely.

Blow out as you push, don’t hold your breath

Holding myself up

Can you imagine holding something up for almost 30 years? Well, I did just that. That kind of holding can eventually show up as pain in the hips and legs. What supports me started to break down.

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Dropping Down & Pushing

Walking nearby our campsite my hips dropped and I felt a release. An awareness washed over me of just how long I have been moving ahead in a way that injures

Since the moment when I passed my newborn son from my arms into the arms of his adoptive mother I have been…

  • holding myself up
  • holding myself back
  • unable to settle into a position that allows for ease of birthing.

I was not going to relax and move into a position where I was likely to give away so much of myself again.

Giving Birth

I am in another 7 year cycle. Exploring patterns:

1-7: childhood, play!

7-14: adolescence, play!

14-21: marriage, birth of my daughter

21-28: birth of my son and daughter, back to school

28-35: surrogate pregnancy, masters program

35-42: birth of my surrogate son, doctoral program, new relationship, kids leave home, move, play!

42-49: play! move, breast cancer, Mom’s breast cancer, re-marriage

49-56: play! move, Michael’s cancer returns, surgery and treatment; Mom’s death

56-63: play! Dad’s death, gave away my son at his wedding

63-70: play! new chapter!

My ability to hold on is amazing. Will I be able to release what has been holding me back? It’s exciting to think about a new chapter in my life.

What’s next?

for me? for you?

 

A Life Well-Lived is Play-FULL

How do you define play, Mary Alice?

The art of playing in the everyday 

could be ‘the art of meditating in the everyday’, Jamie said.

For me, its simple really and a commitment to Self-development.

Practicing the art of playing in the everyday is my life practice and viewpoint–my compass.

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Meditative walking, reflecting while I do the dishes, musing over my night dream when I first wake up in the morning, singing in the shower, reading a book to my grandchildren, sharing what’s happened during the day with Michael over a glass of wine in the evening, drawing or journaling while perched on an overlook, photographing a wildflower, puttering around the house…

each and every moment of my life can be playful

I can play with it all

there is playfulness in each step I take…

I am grateful for moments of ease & joy and doubly grateful for the more challenging moments of life where play transforms walls that I have built to pathways of positive development.

Jamie’s question encouraged me to reflect on two questions,

what is play?

what is not-play?

When I face my fears I am more likely to find my place of fearlessness. Similarly, when I practice not-play I tend to deepen my practice of playing in the everyday of my life (and then some!)

Not-play is when I get hung up or find myself in a complex. I forget and have to find playfulness buried underneath all the seriousness, concern, worry, or challenges that I am holding on tightly to.

When anger and even rage surfaces (sometimes at lightning speed) I forget my Self when I am swallowed up in a deep morass. I am grateful that these moments of forgetfulness are short-lived. Why? Because I remember PLAY (and SHE never forgets me!) and I am pulled out of the destructive holding pattern I find myself in and am set free!


Today I’m playing with ideas of how to deepen my writing, how to playfully organize my writing, how to en-courage my Courageous Self to come out, how to follow through with positive action supported by the guidance of my dreams, how to share my writing with others, how to focus on the important bits.

Take a walk on the (not-play) side and see what happens. [if it feels like you are dancing counter to the rhythm of the music that’s okay–it’s all play!]

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Saying YES to my KID + Ready to GO!

Slow Down, Kids at Play–

that’s YOU and ME!

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Bailey’s Cold: Came home from my week with three of my grandchildren blessed with Bailey’s cold. Body Time. Stopping and Listening…

Labyrinth

On Labyrinth Day I walked my playful journey at Pam’s Labyrinth in Sequim. I noticed that I had the impulse to leave my path again and again. I heard a voice say, If you leave the path you won’t complete your journey. Aha! BIG STUFF!

I returned to where I began my walk focused on fully moving in the Experience and Completion.

Going Analog: I’m playing with slowly weaning myself of what no longer serves me. I’m not going to throw out as much as re-arrange, put aside, and shape what has importance & meaning…

Parents often tell me they have a hard time playing…These parents inspire me to keep sharing the importance of play to help parents, grandparents, and their children create lives that are heart-based and en-JOY-able.

What are or could be your playful inspirations today?

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Saying No, Means Saying YES!

Saying no to one opportunity

brings open space and creativity.

Saying no to some one else’s want

brings flexibility and self-respect.

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Saying no to fear

brings en-couragement, openness

vulnerability.

Saying no to judgment and criticism

brings playfulness and receptivity.

Saying YES to my Swing! Nature

Playing in the Everyday with some New Things and Growing what I’ve already started:

  • Global Play & Local Collaborations
  • Contra Dance, Learning to Play the Fiddle
  • Musical Inspiration with Army Jazz Band, Janiva Magness, Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts, PoetryMusic
  • Playing with my Grandchildren at the Beach & Pool, always a De-Light!
  • Creativity Calls, New Creative Adventures
  • Spending time with Friends
  • Producing–Arranging a Special Showing of Michael’s Watercolors
  • Bird Watching
  • Facilitating Full Moon Earth Day Ritual with our Drumming Circle
  • Soul Motion
  • North Olympic Land Trust Crew
  • Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge Volunteering
  • Hiking and Nature Photography
  • Drawing & Painting
  • Writing with a Partner, Singing, and Recording Children’s Songs
  • Singing out of Key
  • Swing!

Are you saying NO, so you can say YES?

I’d love to hear about it ALL! Comment or write to me, share your story! (its been proven beyond a doubt that when you SHARE your story you GAIN BEYOND MEASURE!)

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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

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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.

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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.

Re-Solution

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 Child Within My Heart: I Did It!

Can the child within my heart rise above and feel at home with herself?

It took a while for me to rise to the occasion. I sent an email to a musician who I have collaborated with during ‘archival memoir project‘ performances and recordings.

Ken, would you like to explore a possible collaboration?

I did it! [I love when kids say that!]

I reached out, asked for help, and it turns out Ken is enthusiastic about the idea as well…he’s in!

Joy!

We are now planning to record songs  that I have been creating while taking my daily walks and playing in my studio. I’ve recorded some of the melodies and lyrics on a small tape recorder. Other lyrics are saved as notes in my journals. There are many more melodies and lyrics that keep popping out. Plus+ I would like to add bits of where I play on keyboard, guitar, and fiddle *as I learn. Ken is versed as a string and keyboard musician and plays with a number of improvisational groups. I can’t wait to see what the combination of Ken’s musicality + Mary Alice’s playing will sound like!

As Ken and I talked by phone a recognition came over me that he understands that my collection of melodies and lyrics [both recorded on tape and stored in my body] are additional chapters of the postpartum of my story and will be included in my ongoing archival memoir project.

Sounding Bowls

A place that is natural

Last night I was playing with sounding bowls at our local healer’s circle gathering. The throat chakra bowl seemed to play even more vibrantly when I sang. As I chanted and sang a word came to me

authentic

The last sounding bowl I played was the solar plexus bowl. It sounded a bit off to me and I really didn’t want to play it. What I resist, insists…

so I started to play and realized that this bowl represents my Shadow and my resistance. It’s the bowl I need to play first before I play the throat chakra bowl or the root bowl…both of these bowls sang for and with me.

Similarly, I’m moving past my resistance to sharing the melodies and words that I have stored for so long. Moving ahead and sharing my stories with others. Stepping up and giving it up!

singing, writing, painting, fiddling around….

I’d love to hear what you have stored away in your drawers, computer files, cupboards. What do you resist sharing?

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Playing with Our Natural Habits

Up in the air and over the top of the tree til I can see so far. ~Mary Alice, age 5

Play in the Everyday: Natural Habits

Each day I take a nature walk. Going back to the same place again and again may seem boring to some. For me, it is a reflective practice that helps me deepen my relationship with the natural world and the place I call home.

Daily Nature Walks

There is nothing usual about my daily walks. I walk for miles some days. Other days I walk with Lila, now almost 10-months-old and we stop to sniff and take in the smells all around us.

Right now there is a great deal of pollen in the air. Living in the Northwest we have a good bit of rain or we have overcast skies so musty and damp are common smells to whiff.

I frequently see quail and deer and a variety or roaming dogs and cats. Lila is always eager to play with all of the friends she sees on our walks together whether four-legged, winged, or two-legged but they are not always so eager to play with her!

When I look up and out I see mountains and water just about at every turn. What I see changes quickly. There is nothing static about our relationship. Mountain, Water, Tree, Four-Legged, Winged Ones, and many others along the way converse with me and I listen. I don’t always hear or I don’t know their language–I am always eager to hear what they have to say. I know very little in comparison to what Nature knows and can share with me at every turn.

Its Really Good For Me

There are days when I am involved with writing or have something else to do–

once I am out the door

there is no going back, movement takes over and I’m totally in! realizing just how much I en-joy each and every moment of my walks. I’m re-energized when I return to my writing or whatever I was involved in before leaving home. AND I haven’t missed out on all the wonder and awe I experience as I walk–create deepening, soulful relationships with place and the natural world.

Sometimes I see evidence of broken relationships with nature. Trees cut down, garbage haphazardly thrown on the side of the road and scattered in fields. Animals mistreated. When I witness brokenness of this sort I remember,

Since we are inclined to care and protect who and what we love, ‘falling in love’ with the natural world…is a key ingredient for creating a peaceful, healthy and just world…it’s critical to find those places that stir our awe and wonder. ~Zoe Weil, Institute for Humane Education President

Playing Outdoors is a Priority

It is now my playful habit to walk daily. Often I take my camera along. Being the photographer places me in the position of witness and recorder. 

Sometimes I take a small notebook with me or carry along a portable watercolor kit so I can paint. You might see me recording some of my thoughts as an audio file or creating a small video to share. Talking with another walker or stopping to share a treat with one of the dogs or horses along the way.

Some ‘play notes’ from my journal:

I don’t feel as safe here as I use to

I’m out of breath. Can I outlast them? Outrun them?

Oh, I can move past that obstacle easily

I’m all for greater play-diversity in my habit-[at].

Want to create some new playful habits of your own?

THE PLAYFUL JOURNEY RETREAT is a half-day gathering that can be accessed by phone from wherever you are.The Playful…

 

 

 

 

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?

Medium.Com

I’ll be posting parts of my memoir on medium.com

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

AND WHO SAYS ‘DONE’ IS THE BE-ALL AND END-ALL ANYWAY…

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?

I’D LOVE TO HEAR ALL ABOUT IT!

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Create a Life that Comes from the Heart