Tag Archives: memoir

Grief Has No Time Table: Patterns of Remembering & Awakening

When I wrote this post in 2016 I hadn’t yet recognized that the patterns in my dreams were giving me a ‘heads up!’  letting me know that my surrogate son would be calling in the new year!

Resource: Uma Girish interviewed me recently as part of her ‘Grammar of Grief’ series. I invite you to listen to our interview.

June 24, 2016 Dream:

GUIDELINES TO HELP ME PASS THROUGH A DOOR TO MY MEMORY

I’m in an Alzheimer’s facility. My sister, Patty, is standing beside me. She is a tall, big woman (my sister in waking life looks very different from this dream figure representing my sister, shadow). I’m wondering when Michael is going to come visit me at the Alzheimer’s facility. A female staff member is ready to go home. It is just about 6pm. As she prepares to leave she grabs her black purse and slings it over her left shoulder. I talk with her briefly about whether I can walk outside. I don’t know the rules or guidelines yet.

The words that call me are:

  • separated from Michael
  • what are the guidelines
  • passing through the door to the outside
  • standing beside me
  • ready to go home
Credit- Gary Hamburgh
Elwah

Credit- Gary Hamburgh

I received my dream after asking for dream guidance. My dream stays with me and is helping me to re-member the importance of what is just outside my door, through the portal:

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Hurricane Ridge Road

July 3, 2016 Dream

RETURNING TO GET WHAT I NEED 

I’m walking down a paved urban sidewalk. I see three yellow school buses coming my way up the hill. Looks like I will miss the bus because everything I need is at home. I jay walk across the busy street (while being careful not to be hit) and make my way back to the right side. Looks like I will have to drive to school after I retrieve what I need at home. 

Memoir & Ambiguous Loss 

I won’t see him again or I may

Pauline Boss is an expert in ambiguous loss. She works with people following events like 911, Japan’s Tsunami, and other life changing losses like divorce and adoption,  In her On Being interview with Krista Tippett, The Myth of Closure, Pauline says:

  • there is no such thing as closure
  • the media does great harm to people when they write or talk about closure
  • grief has no timetable

Pauline also talks about how people cope when there is no funeral to go to or a place to visit after the death of a loved one. [someone is missing but may be found, a child is adopted and the birthmother may see him again].

It helps to be able to say:

I won’t see him again or I may

Everyone of us has experienced losses that are a part of the fiber of our being.

Carl Jung wrote about the tension of the opposites

When you can say, “I won’t see him (her) again but I may”, and hold that tension you can unite the two in a creative, transformative way.

Inconsolable Grief

When I started writing this post in 2016 I hadn’t yet seen the patterns in my dreams calling me home.

Patterns that I recognize about how I am developing. Who I am Becoming.

Home is where I write and re-member my own inconsolable grief. My own sense of loss following the adoption of my surrogate son.

Home is the Olympic Peninsula. The place where I want my ashes scattered. Where I want my children and grandchildren to remember their Mom and Nana.

Home is where my dreams reside and I re-member what I am called to BECOME.


Thank you for showing up and being here. I’d love to hear from you. I never know where my writing will take me when I begin any one post. The big ‘C’ words, closure and completion, have been replaced with focus and freedom.

Some questions to consider. I’ll be standing right beside you as we consider these questions together…

  • Are their patterns that you have found through your journaling, understanding of your movement styles, dreams, or through your relationship with nature that you recognize as helpful guides in your development?
  • Is closure possible after the loss of a loved one who you will not see again? or after the loss of a marriage or adoption of a child?
  • Does our ability to bring closure affect our ability to play and create?
  • What happens when something loss is found? How does that change who you are becoming?

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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…

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…?

 

We Remember Moments

Many of you undoubtedly have read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing from the Bones. Natalie’s book is celebrating its 30th anniversary and sits on a special spot on my bookshelf.

Indeed, when I visited Taos I sat and wrote in the very chair that Natalie uses to sit on and write.

One of the writing exercises that I have used as a prompt for years is:

I Remember…

Let me give it a whirl right now:

I remember when I walked to St. John’s church hall hoping to find someone there so I could sign-up to become a brownie (girl scout) and no one was there to do sign-ups. I remember my disappointment.

I remember making love in a hollowed out tree in the rain forest.

I remember the ‘White Hawk’ dream that woke me on the morning of my wedding day.

I remember when my oldest daughter gave birth to her daughter and my first grandchild.

I remember when I made a special trip to go visit periwinkle and say goodbye before I moved from the Northwest to California for a second time.

and that’s just for starters….

Now its your turn:

I Remember…

 

Do You Notice that the Same Stuff Keeps Spiraling Around

Falling apart is alchemical, a process of dis-memberment that promises repair, re-membering, and growth.

Re-membering what is important, what matters most, what you are called to attend to, what to love, what to share with others lovingly again and again.

Starting over again and again offers me continuous opportunities to play with, cycle through, spiral around what is not completely done with me.

Do you ever notice that the same issues keep coming up again and again?

What are the issues that you re-play over and over?

Throughout my life I keep spiraling around:

  • Not Being Heard and Seen by Others
  • Recurring Dreams of Betrayal, Woundedness, and Criticism

 

Being Seen and Heard

A few years ago I was in an ongoing dance group. During one dance someone in the group started to shout, I want to be seen and heard! This proclamation was followed by others until we were all shouting out what we needed most, I want to be seen and heard!

It seems there is a human need to be acknowledged. To be seen and heard. Really seen and heard for who we are and who we are becoming… (not for what others want us to be).

Recurring Dreams of Betrayal, Woundedness, and Criticism

For many years I have been receiving a recurring dream where other dream figures representative of my tribe criticize and berate me. I have just begun to write about my shadow (what is hidden from my conscious view) and how my recurring dreams are helping me to find my way to acceptance and forgiveness.

Some Prompts for Reflection on What it Means to ‘Fall Apart:

What if, falling apart is …

In my world falling apart is…

I feel like I’m being ripped wide open when…

I am…


WANT A WAY TO ADD 21-DAY ‘START WRITING YOUR MEMOIR’  IMAGES AND PROMPTS TO YOUR JOURNAL WITH EASE?
   $12  Buy Now

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

 

I Like Showing My Wild Side

Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

In 1996 I recorded my dance of the selchies (seal woman’s) story juxtaposed against my own personal story of being a surrogate mother for my psychotherapist and her husband. For months prior to filming I worked with a choreographer and practiced my dance during dance class, on a private beach on California’s central coast, and in a dance studio. When the day of the shoot finally arrived, I danced on a stage that was built from hard metal puzzle pieces. Rivets held the pieces of the stage together. As I danced over  the 4 hours of recording the costume that I was wearing was torn and my body bruised. When I finally returned home after we had finished for the day I discovered that my body was covered with bruises.

I remember thinking as I went to bed that night that I was more seal than woman. I had gone onto land and birthed a son while being separated from the waters of my birth and my natural wild Self.

Since that time and while writing my memoir I have revisited my selchie dance and my personal story many times over. I opened Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype today and found some notes scribbled onto a magazine page that I had inserted into the pages of the ‘Homecoming: Returning to One’s Self’‘ chapter. The torn magazine page has two images of women dancing and the word SPEECHLESS set in the middle of the page.

Estes writes, we lose the moleskin by becoming too involved with the ego, by being too exacting, perfectionistic. or unnecessarily martyred, or driven by a blind ambition, or by being dissatisfied–about self, family, community, culture, world–and not saying or doing anything about it SPEECHLESS or by pretending we are an unending source for others, or by not doing everything we can to help ourselves. 

Two words I wrote and tucked away in the pages of the selchie story around the year 2010 are PASSION, DREAMS

The wild woman is fluent in the nature of dreams, images, passion, and poetry.


The power of Mary Alice’s story is the heart connections that connect us all while honoring our unique experiences and beliefs.

Muriel Percy, Ontario, CAN

You made 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…..

Betsy Wetzig, Allentown, PA

**Below you can watch both the selchie dance and 1 of a series of memoir project performances**

How are you fluent in the language of dreams, images, passion, and poetry?


WANT A WAY TO ADD 21-DAY ‘START WRITING YOUR MEMOIR’  IMAGES AND PROMPTS TO YOUR JOURNAL WITH EASE?
   $12  Buy Now

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

Play On. Hearts Beat. There is Life. Write from the Heart.

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Write from the Heart

Inspired by Melodie Ramone’s writing:

Open up. Don’t listen to other people’s opinions. Write in your unique voice. Write standing up. Write when you are sad, depressed, and couldn’t care less. Write when you are feel joyful, hopeful, and willing. Write on torn off pieces of your journal, on paper napkins stained with coffee, in the books you read. Paint on rocks and share them with others. Write and read your writing out loud to yourself, to your best friend, to your dog, to Tree in your backyard. Write down your dreams and listen. Write down what your dreams are telling you and then change your dream by writing some more. Put on costumes and march to a different drummer. Share your writing. Don’t be afraid. It’s all good. Listen to music and write. Dance and write. Take a walk in the woods and sit down on a log and write. Get down on your knees in the sand and write. Write with your children and grandchildren. Write as you are not who others think you should be. Write fearlessly. Write courageously and often. Write because you must. Write it all down and then say some more. Write as if you are writing a letter to your best friend. Write and don’t hold back anything. Write and pulsate as you tap on the words on the computer. Write rhythmically and when you feel like it push the river. Write as if you aren’t afraid of a broken heart. Write with as much of your life force as you can muster. Write as the BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN WIDE OPEN PERSON YOU ARE. ~So Much Love, Mary Alice


WANT A WAY TO ADD 21-DAY ‘START WRITING YOUR MEMOIR’  IMAGES AND PROMPTS TO YOUR JOURNAL WITH EASE?
   $12  Buy Now

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

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?

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?