Category Archives: Playing in the Everyday

Writing like a River Flows

Overcoming Self Doubt as a Writer

Photo by Daniil Silantevon Unsplash

The next time you hear the voice of doubt as a writer remember that you are harder on yourself than anyone else could ever be. ~ Mary Alice

When you write you are digging a deep well. In the darkness lives all of your fears, doubts, and the prima materia that only you can mold into stories written in your unique style.

When I feel the pull of doubt — I look to natural metaphor, inner work, other writers and creatives, and my life experiences as inspiration that will diminish my fears and keep me writing:

The nature of writing

I live on the border of a wild, natural playground — the Olympic National Park. It is easy to lose track of time as I write sitting on a boulder by the Elwha river, overlook the Bailey Range on Hurricane Ridge, or witness the delights of Raven’s flight.

© Mary Alice Long

Library of dreams

My dreams help me to understand that I am called to be a writer, that through my dreams I will find the answers I seek, and that my Teacher is nearby, he has found me and wants me to do the work of a writer.

Write and you will find your answers

Your Teacher will find you — A male dream figuretells me that hewants me to use my talent and write well. I write in my dream journal, 

I know I can do it if I put the work in.

In the shadow of writers

For years I lived in the shadow of artists and then I married one! By the time I met Michael, I was beginning to understand that it was time for me to embrace my own innate creativity.

Today I find myself in the shadow of writers and artists who inspire me to write stories in my unique style: 

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.~Sylvia Plath

I’m a little anxious. How am I to bring off this conception? Directly one gets to work is like a person walking, who has seen the country stretching out before. I want to write nothing in this book that I don’t enjoy writing. Yet writing is always difficult.~ Virginia Woolf

Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty — describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember… Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Life experience

After writing a quick list of experiences that have been transformative in my life, I realize once again the importance of recording my stories and sharing them with readers.

I have many stories written and stored away in computer files and drawers. I have shared a number of the stories I have written in draft form as part of interviews or research studies. Self-doubt has kept me from sharing mystories in my own unique, writer’s voice. 

I know that I can find my way to sharing my stories if I put the work in.

Write. Rewrite. Read. Repeat.

How do you overcome self doubt as a writer? 

I would love to hear from you and send you my weekly letter.

Forgotten Something?

Matters of the Heart

When there are big deals happening in my life, I am grateful for the small. Pulling myself back again and again to what I might otherwise dismiss helps me to claim what is all around me, in me, of me.

Are they really small or are they forgotten? It feels like I just haven’t gotten to my destination yet or I forget to walk into the writing room that has my name prominently etched on the door.

My writer’s heart. So often I walk around doing and forget that my body of work is limitless when I write in rhythm with the beating of my heart.

Heart Center

My heart keeps pumping even as I glaze over, feel down, leap for joy, go on to that next thing.

In the center of my heart may the purest flame rise up dancing.

Janine Canan
  • The human heart is divided into chambers
  • The heart beats about 100,000 times per day (about 3 billion beats in a lifetime)

A Broken Heart

Inevitably in life your heart will be broken, not once, but many times over.

Follow your Heart

Follow your heart. Our everyday moments remind us repeatedly (if we are listening) that this life does not go on forever.

Write from the Heart

Fill your paper with the breathing of your heart.

William Wordsworth

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

Playing in the Everyday: In the Process of Clearing

I often review my journals, images, and stories and look at what I am drawn to, what I delight in, as I practice playing in the everyday moments of life.

Natural Pattern © Mary Alice Long

I wonder what you are drawn to in your everyday moments? What is stirred, what captivates your attention? What are you curious about?

I have no difficulty at all finding play in the most difficult moments of my life. At the same time, I realize that you may not be able to understand how play can be present in any part of your day, let alone part of every moment.


Well, it so happens that I am in the process of clearing. I had to move past my own resistance but now I am going through boxes and drawers in my studio, home, and garage. I’m curious, what does it means to clear? To clarify? To give away, eliminate, throw away, gift, hold onto, create new understanding, focus, organize, create clarity.

When I search for clarity on social media I find the following:

  • Clarity creates Simplicity
  • Morning Pages: A Process to Help you Clear the Chatter and find more Clarity and Peace
  • 8 Questions to Help you Declutter for Clarity
  • Mindfulness will calm the Running Commentary in your Brain and let it Focus on the Present for Clarity
  • How to Achieve Clarity by Practicing Yoga

I am eliminating things by recycling, giving away things. Choosing to dig into what clearing means to me today is helping me to take a pause. There is so much more to the steps that I am taking to clear my home and studio space. New understandings are emerging. Right now.

Hmmm… Now I am really excited!

New Growth © Mary Alice Long

Chopping but Keeping the Roots

After discovering that clematis needs to be cut back from time-to-time I chopped the plant to about 3 feet above ground. Her purple blossoms are more vibrant than ever.

I’ve also been cutting away what I have collected and archived. As a starting point, I went through things stored in boxes and then after reviewing them put them all back in the box. After a number of attempts, I decided that I had to be ruthless and send most of what I had stored as archives to the recycle bin.

Every box that is cut up and tossed in the recycle bin helps me lighten the load I have been carrying and gives me space to imagine what is next. My roots are deep within the soil of my dreamscape, embodied, ensouled, and won’t be disturbed by the cutting that happens above ground.

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’.

New Beginnings

The I Ching for Writers by Sarah Jane Sloane (2005) is a book for writers that I’ve have been playing with for many years as I’ve been writing and re-writing my personal memoir.

The I-Ching is a 3000-year-old oracle or guide that informs my life side-by-side with my dreams. As I have been re-writing my memoir and a book proposal to send to publishers I have started to play with each chapter in Sarah Jane’s book. I am playing with each reading as the I-Ching shares its own sense of humor with me.

I created this video, broadcasted on Periscope, on Instagram, and on the Play=Peace page on Facebook focusing on Hexagram 1, New Beginnings.

I will continue to create and share a play-based, depth-oriented series which will include all 64 hexagrams. I hope today’s video and broadcasts feeds your imagination.

I invite you to share your new beginnings or ways that you are approaching your work, writing, or project in the spirit of beginning a-new!

Sit Back and Enjoy the Trip: Synchronicity, The Soulfulness of Play, and Our Choices

I open up my journal to write, put pen to paper, and before I realize it an hour of my flight has slipped by. I put down my journal and pick up a copy of Southwest magazine.

Dear Southwest

I booked a flight from New York to Milwaukee the morning of because I learned our surrogate in Milwaukee was going into labor five weeks early. Fortunately, my husband was already there. When the flight attendants discovered what was happening, they could not have been more excited for us. The baby was born during the flight, but thankfully, the WiFi was amazing. Event though I couldn’t be there, I was getting realtime updates and pictures of the delivery room. Flight attendant Tabitha Taulbee Cotton also knitted a blanket during the flight–the baby’s first gift! I will never forget being on a Southwest flight while my first child was being born. I am grateful to Tabitha and her colleagues for making what could have been a nightmare into something smooth, easy, and memorable. We will always treasure the blanket and the story that comes with it. 

When I read the word surrogate I recognize a synchronicity that says to me, 

Yes, there is no doubt. You are meant to be a passenger on this plane. 

I also recognize that this year I’ve been pregnant once again, caring for my son and giving birth to an opportunity for he and I to find meaning within our story.

January 2017

The phone rings and it’s my surrogate son. He wants to talk by phone. We end up talking for a couple of hours. I share his birth story. He shares his concern for me. His desire to connect with his birth mother. Turns out he’s been diagnosed with melanoma and has had two surgeries to remove the cancer. His 30th birthday is approaching.

March 2017

William is in hospital after doctors discover his melanoma has spread to his lungs.

September 2017

New Birth, New Beginnings

Nine months has passed since our January conversation, William calls to tell me that he will be undergoing brain surgery. I ask him if he would like me to journey and meet for the first time.

Notes from my Journal:

I am on the Dungeness Shuttle. Left Port Angeles at 6am. The driver says, there are seven on the manifest

Listening to the recorded safety features the driver plays, I hear, Sit back and enjoy the trip.


The most difficult part of labor is transition.

Returning home on a Southwest flight I heard the familiar,

We realize you have many choices in air travel. Thank you for choosing Southwest Airlines.

As I listened I began to think of the many choices I make everyday to discover new ways to play in the everyday.

I write in my journal my belief that…

The Art of Playing in the Everyday is a daily practice that concerns itself with soulfulness in small details of living and with changes and major decisions.

By writing and sharing this part of my playful journey, I am attending to the Soul of Lived Experience.

My hope is that the beautiful dance that I am living and sharing through my writing and play-based work offers you the opportunity to dance in the waters of renewal and creativity.

[Read the prequel here] 

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.

Personal Story, Birth, and the Real Deal We Call Life







Play and Self-Care

Playing with self-care * listening to STOP signals * so you can be free (to GO!)

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

Claim your Free Guide to the ‘Art of Playing in the Everyday’.

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

I’m Crossing the Finish Line: Work as Play

After writing for 5 minutes about ‘crossing the finish line’ while visualizing and drawing that finish line in my visual journal, I realized that I had bumped up my ‘Can Do’ and deflated my ‘Critic’.

This is what I wrote: When I see myself crossing the finish line, I am smiling, ecstatic, filled up, and joyful. Treats and celebration await! When I cross the finish line I embrace the moment, playing in the everyday of my life. All the work that has led me here feels so worth it in this moment. I can do anything! Life is abundant. I’m clear, focused and yet–soft, gentle, receiving. Whoo! There is more to come but for now–I am enough!

After I completed my writing, I remembered the ‘Start Your Memoir’ challenge that I offered in February 2017. I am really good at new starts and now I am good at ‘crossing the finish line’. How about you? Listen to my podcast and learn more about the ‘Art of Playing in the Everyday’ and how work can be play (which leads us through the portal to creativity and innovation in our work). Imagine that!

Listen to: I’m Crossing the Finish Line: Work as Play

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.

Playing with New Things and Perfection: We Are All a Little Weird

We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. ~ Dr. Seuss

Stepping into new experiences in our lives can feel challenging. If, on top of those feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence, we add a desire for perfection we can too often give up on the practice we have just begun.

I have been trying out some new online video tools. I am comfortable with audio or being filmed during a performance but somehow looking at myself on the phone or computer screen as I record a #scope or LIVE event feels uncomfortable and frankly doesn’t feel playful.

Listen to: The Art of Playing in the Everyday and New Experience (Part 4) 

(Oh! Perfect!)

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 Dose of En-Courage-ment & Inspiration Leads to a New Focal Point

Over the last few weeks I have been in conversation with three very disparate people have brought me insight and safe passage as I bridge the gap between where I am and where I want to be.

  • This morning I listened to Christine Gilbert talk about ‘bringing it together’. I recognized while listening that I am ready to focus on the one thing that matters to me most in my business and that I am ready to do the work to get me to where I want to be.
  • Greg Dickson is an author, business coach, and entrepreneur. He and I only recently began to converse about a diverse array of subjects. I truly appreciate Greg’s willingness to share his viewpoints and to listen to what I have to contribute in the conversation. When I talked to Greg I used the word ‘trying’ and later shared my realization that (through the help of my spouse, Michael) that it is more of a re-start or re-vitalization.
  • Julie Jordan Scott is a writer who inspires women to experience creative re-birth. She (and Gloria Fuentes) inspired me to write

Between my trials and my deepening there is a bridge and it means safe passage

So now I am embracing two Summer-time Words:



  • Do you have some helpers in your life that en-courage and inspire you?
  • What are your summer-time words?

I would love to hear from you!

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

Give me a call or text me at 206/200-4542.



Some Highlights from our NEW Instagram Photo Challenge & Contest to Inspire YOU!

Submit a photo for a chance to win a gift of playful goodies packaged lovingly by Mary Alice. Follow us at Instagram, use the hashtag #playintheeveryday, sign-up to receive ‘Play Notes‘, and you are in!

BONUS!! When you sign-up for ‘Play Notes’ you will receive a link to download a copy of ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-Book.

Instagram is a platform that allows you to share images and videos. It has millions of daily users and is a great way to keep up with friends, family, and even your favorite brands. It’s a great way for your friends and family to keep up with you too, and more people as well especially if you buy followers for Instagram! You can do this for a number of reasons, many people do this so that they can have a bigger audience to see their content. There’s no limit to how much you can post or interact with one another and it’s basically like one big family. This Instagram challenge was a great way to interact with one another and see what we’ve all been up to recently. Posts racked up quite a few likes and perhaps some chose to buy Instagram likes because they had significant engagement! In Instagram language, engagements mean likes, comments and reposts. The more you get, the more popular your Instagram account will become. You could increase your engagements by using something like the Ingramer bot… or you could join in with our Instagram challenges!

Lynzelle from South Africa @live_in_wonder submitted a photo of her son’s experiment with chromatography.

I wrote in response to @live_in_wonder:

I love how you’re playing with science. I was involved with a nonprofit called ‘Art, Science, and Nature’. As a group we invited in international artists and scientists and Montessori teachers, et al… to explore the intersection of arts and science, that arts and science are not separate. In your image I love the play and colors. We would all love to hear your comments about the ways you play with science.

Lynzelle @live_in_wonder added:

I am homeschooling my son. He is in 7th grade now, and we just love to do all the experiments. This one was about chromatography. I really love science and enjoy watching the amazement on his face when things start to happen! This one was very colourful too!?It is important to me that he enjoys the experience, then you learn so much more!

Callie @callie_carling posted:

Today has been a true self-care day, playing in my garden in the sunshine! All thoughts of exam stress, work pressures + health issues were vamooshed with a sweep of my pritt-stick.

I wrote in response:

Recently a friend and I did the same thing. We took our paints, markers, pencils and paper outside and had a great time creating and sharing together. Thank you so much for participating in our NEW INSTAGRAM PHOTO CHALLENGE & CONTEST.

My goal for our first Photo Challenge and Contest is a playful one. I want everyone who participates to have fun while sharing photos of what makes them happy, what creates joy, what feels playful in the every day. There are so many opportunities to play in the everyday. Science experiments, art-making in the garden and a spin in a colorful convertible!

Each moment brings along a playful opportunity… #playintheeveryday

@createthelight posted:

A sandpit is one of the best places for us to practice our imagination. Here we made roads to our sand houses. The other day we had a bakery and were making sand cakes (the blueberry super cherry cake was a winner). We were unicorns by the way, and could only pick the blueberries from unicorn land for which only she had the password.
My little one is the boss of the game and I have to follow along. Love this!!

I wrote in response:

I love to play at the beach with my grandkids and remember fondly creating mud pies that I traded for delicious Norwegian cookies be by our next door neighbor–she was like a grandma to me. I also have been in my own sand play process and held sacred space for sandplay as a therapeutic mode for my clients when I was practicing as a depth oriented psychotherapist. Child center play is so important. Whether child or adult imagination can lead us to wild places, often very different than our every day reality.

Now Its Your Turn! Submit a photo for a chance to win a gift of playful goodies packaged lovingly by Mary Alice. #playintheeveryday

While sharing your image of ‘play in the everyday’ moments of your life, be sure to Follow us, use the hashtag #playintheeveryday, and sign-up to receive ‘Play Notes‘, our bi-weekly newsletter filled with playful resources, to be in the running for my special gift package of playful goodies. I will be re-posting photos as they come in–sharing what makes us all sing! dance! be happy! express ourselves! and play and en-joy! life to the full.

BONUS!! When you sign-up for ‘Play Notes’ you will receive a link to download a copy of ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-Book.

Find Play=Peace on Instagram

Instagram Challenge: The Art of Playing in the Everyday