Tag Archives: life lessons

UnBounded: Limitless Joy

© Mary Alice Long

Boundaries. Borders. Barriers.

What does it mean to be bounded? To set limits? To have limits that you find difficult to overcome? To live knowing that there is a barrier to something or someone you want desperately to get to?

Some of the words that rise to the surface when I explore boundaries today are limits, crossing, tied up, safety, clarity, decision-making, reassuring, borderline, cut off, threshold, NO.

By the time I was pregnant as a surrogate mother I had built many barriers to joy. Everybody else’s needs were more important than mine. I felt resentful and angry.

After Will was born, my naivete vanished when following each of his birthdays I was left without resolution–without a word of his well-being.

Over time, my life experience and my dreams helped me to see that I had given away too much of myself and that I had to take steps to bring joy out of the chaos. I came to understand the need to forgive myself and others and to take responsibility for my life.

Crossing the Borderline from Chaos to Joy

Writing

When I write I am often aware or working intentionally within the bounds of a beginning, middle, and end to the story. There is, however, no set way for me to write within that familiar progression. As the creator of my story I am the ONE who chooses the container for my words.

When ideas come I write them down in my journal or add them to my notes. When I sit down to write on any given day I look to these drafts. Each title has an energy behind it. It’s easy for me to begin and soon I am into the writing process.

Body

Movement meditation leads me to joy and stillness. I feel a sense of arrival. Instead of movement to change an outer event I am experiencing an inner opening of the gates. Acceptance of what is and letting go of expectations leads to a joyfulness in my process of becoming. Joy moving into stillness brings me back to Self and Self-ishness. I am at the threshold of my experience and grace spills me over into the next moment and the next. My movements reflect my life and help me change my perspective just enough to allow in pain and joy, failure and success.

Making a Rainbow

Often the smallest packages bring the greatest joy.

Yesterday I opened a sealed, well-packed box. When the sun shines during the day and early evening our dining and living room walls fill with the colors of the rainbow. A prism in Ed Nesteruk’s glass art piece makes rainbow colors.

When the sun comes out to play, a variety of colors make our day!

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

~ Rumi

P.S. I would love to send you my weekly letter.

Mary Alice Long, PhD is a play-based, depth-oriented coach, writer, and artist who practices and teaches the ‘Art of Playing in the Everyday’.

I am a Success when I…

Summer Clouds © Mary Alice Long

…notice the graces that appear when I need them most. 

…dare to add one word, one phrase, one sentence to my memoir draft.

…begin to write a letter to my memoir project followers.

…read one page of the novel I have been wanting to read for 3 months.

…pick up one piece of clothing, paper, or a treasure and give, donate, or throw it away.

I am a Success

…when I say one kind, loving word to Michael when I am angry with cancer’s effects on our life together.

…when I take the time to prepare nutritious meals, get enough sleep, exercise, and go on regular play dates for self-care.

…when I reach out to to someone who needs support.

…when I take the time to document the Beauty that is all around me.

Love that Color!

I am a Success

…when I write a story and share it on Medium and on other social media platforms

…when I keep trying even when all the evidence says, no way!

…when I say what I have to say without concern for what others may think of me.

…when I can shift my perspective just enough to let someone else in.

Mary Alice Long, PhD is a play-based, depth-oriented coach, writer, and artist who practices and teaches the ‘Art of Playing in the Everyday’.

Its Summer: A Playful Season of Celebration and Transformation

Its Summer!

Are you feeling confidence and feel a new sense of clarity in every cell of your body?

I hope so. Life follows you wherever you are and in whatever season of change you find ourself. Challenges and difficulties may still be with you. What can you do?

Can you feel abundant while still facing life changes (illness, death in the family, divorce, sudden change,…)?

I believe you can…

Like many of you, in my personal life there are many challenges and at the same time a feeling of great abundance and gratitude.

I am recovering as a woman who gave her Soul away as the result of a core experience. I reclaimed my Soul through the depth-oriented, play-based work of listening to my dreams and taking playful action in response to dream guidance, journaling, the wisdom of nature, PLAYING * CREATING * BECOMING… and yet, as my life story unfolds there are many unanswered questions. Awe, yes, the questions!

There are many ‘ways to play’ and celebrate the everyday moments of your life this summer. Gardening, playing outdoors by hiking, camping, walking in your neighborhood; traveling to new locales or visiting towns or natural settings nearby your home, attending community festivals, parades, outdoor concerts and other community gatherings. Depending on your location you may want to spend time outdoors during the morning hours when it is cooler. Self-care remains important. Journaling or art-making while sitting on your patio or at a picnic table at the park can be relaxing and bring you new insight during this season of change and transformation.

Enjoy your summer and allow time for the ripening of who you are becoming.

Listen to Summer is a Season of Play and Celebration:

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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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?

 

 

 

Make It An Adventure: Let Your Soul Lie Down in the Grass THE WORLD IS TOO FULL TO TALK ABOUT

When our family is going through difficult times or when we feel challenged we say, “wonderful, another grand adventure!

I like to think of my life as one big, playful adventure. Play, for me, includes everything that life presents moment-to-moment. Today I’m inspired by Rumi’s wisdom:

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. When I listen and attend to what I really love I am in flow. I ‘forget’ and ‘remember’ what I am called to become, to perform–nurturer, dreamer, playful spirit, writer, storyteller, warrior, magician, creator, dancer, physical body, intellectual body, steward of nature, humane educator, and so much more…
The wound is the place where the Light enters you. I have just begun to write a series about my recurrent dream. In these dreams I am often wounded by a member of my tribe. I have been recording and listening to the guidance of my dreams for many years. At the start my recurrent dream was only filled with criticism, betrayal, and woundedness. As I continued to dream the dream on, playing with the dreams characters and dialoging with them through active imagination and dreaming, I found that I started to receive nurturance, acceptance, and applause for my efforts from the same characters who berated me earlier. Light enters in when I meet my Shadow with open arms.
 
Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form. Some time ago I wrote about the ‘Myth of Closure‘.  Prior to listening to Pauline Boss’s ‘On Being’ interview, I had named the myth, inconsolable grief. When I relinquished my surrogate son to his adoptive mom and father I didn’t realize the impact of this void. Yes, there is a softening over time but as Pauline talks about in her ‘On Being’ interview when there is a loss and there is a not-knowing that perpetuates and cannot be resolved there is no closure. What remains is inconsolable grief. Anything you lose comes around in another form–My story of relinquishing a newborn to a couple as a surrogate has now been rewritten. I have received a call from my son and he now knows much more about where he came from. The threads of our connection take on another form and promise. There are many news reports of parents who have lost their children through traumas of various kinds, spouses/partners who lose their lovers through drunk driving accidents or disease–many of these parents and spouses/partners courageously go on to create charities in their child or spouses/partners name. Many people, myself included, dream of those who have passed before us. Anything you lose comes around in another form.
 
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. When I meet my Shadow, the parts of me that I cannot see or acknowledge consciously, I seek to find all the barriers within that protect me from the very thing I seek–LOVE. As I write and attend to the work I am called to offer others I am aware that the most effective way to becoming who I am meant to be is Shadow-Play. 
Woundedness, Dreaming, Grieving, Writing, Shadow-Play… are all part of my life’s adventures.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. * The wound is the place where the Light enters you. * Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form. * Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. * Let the beauty we love be what we do. * Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.  * Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along. * When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. * Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? * If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished? ~Rumi
Some writing/creative prompts for your writing and visual journaling: 
  •  What I really love is…
  • My wounds tell me that…
  • My grief surrounds me like a ….
  • I create barriers for myself and they…

WANT A WAY TO ADD 21-DAY ‘START WRITING YOUR MEMOIR’  IMAGES AND PROMPTS TO YOUR JOURNAL WITH EASE?
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I also offer one-on-one mentoring & creative coaching:

WORK/WITH MELEARN ‘the ART OF PLAYING IN THE EVERYDAY’

Find out about our MEMOIR PROJECT

 

 

 

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: 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?