Tag Archives: Play

Wonder, What is Hidden, What Will Emerge this Spring

When I climb to 5,242 feet, the wind reminds me about momentum and my desire to keep going…

the voices keep shouting their bad advice

I keep going. I know what I must do.

21 inches of new snow has fallen. My snowshoes sink deeply as I create a pathway through the subalpine firs. I stop frequently and am aware just how alive I feel in the midst of such

Beauty. Presence. Presents.

What happens when I have that sinking feeling that something isn’t right? I shut down or take a few awkward steps.

I am hungry and take a bite of nourishment. I am carrying burdens– a pack with necessary gear and stuff I lug around with me all the time. To what end? Can I give all of it to the trees who know so much about shedding when their limbs can no longer bear it?

All around me I hear communities of winged ones, four-leggeds who live under the snow, and insects.

The seekers. The survivors. The sensate.

I plop myself down while I snack. I feel closer, sheltered, grounded. I want to be part of, not separated from. The white all around me provides light. The air clears the way. Instead of wanting to push forward I want to

slow down and listen, deepen, connect with life.

I don’t have my journal or watercolors but I have my phone camera. I start to capture or 

I make an attempt to capture images, the moment, reverie, where I came from, where I am going, what my heart wants to sing, what my gut wants me to know.

So many have been here before me. I am surrounded by my ancestors. Not just two-legged. Ancestors come in many forms. They are all present. This place. I am here to understand and communicate. Dreaming comes easily here. I sink further into the deepening of who I am becoming and what I am called to offer.

In this moment, when I learn of the unwelcome news that Michael’s  P.E.T. scan shows another hot spot (cancer), that my spouse will need surgery–the icycles are hard and frozen. or so it seems. I breathe and remind myself that there is fluidity in all of life. Certainly I am a fluid being. I want to be fluid. The drops of water on my branches are in flow, a stream of consciousness, a river of life.

I am grateful for the inspiration of Hurricane Ridge, a mountainous area in the Olympic National Park, the poems of Mary Oliver, and my 25-year love and creative partner, Michael.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

Begin Doing What You Want to Do Now

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparking like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake… ~Sir Francis Bacon

I’m reading ‘The Vintage Years: Finding Your Inner Artist (Writer, Musician, Visual Artist) After Sixty’ by Francine Toder, PhD

Apparently when the author was well into her 60s she began to play the cello. In her book she tells the story of an 89-year-old woman who took part in Francine’s research project. In return for her participation this woman was given free cello lessons. Seems she took to playing cello and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I have been listening to fiddle music for years. Recently I started asking fiddlers how they began to play, what its like for them to jam with a group of other musicians, and what their advice is on getting started as a fiddler.

Just before Christmas I looked for a used fiddle at the local thrift store but no luck. Then, my daughter surprised me with a used fiddle for my birthday!

I’m all Swing, so playing the fiddle seems like a natural for me. I have played the piano and guitar a bit over the course of my life, even taken some lessons and played a couple of pieces in recital. Fiddle just seems like so much fun!

I talked to a few fiddle instructors locally. One of them said to me after listening to me talk about my long-standing desire to play the fiddle,

Mary Alice, I would just pick up the fiddle and play. Don’t worry about lessons for now. With your playful nature the best approach is for you to fiddle around. Later on you might want to take a lesson but for now just get the feel of the instrument, and play!


Whether its writing, fiddling, painting or any other form of play and creativity:

Begin Doing What You Want to Do Now

 

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: 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.

Image

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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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…