Playing in the Dark + Walking with Others without Pity

To those who have dared the darkness, and those who have walked with them, without pity. ~ Marion Woodman, from Bone: Dying into Life

As I write I am aware of the many people who have inspired me along the way. Right now I am allowing the names of those who have breathed life into my everyday to tumble in. Some of these folks have frankly been more like thorns in my side than soft hugs or light touches against the soft skin of my cheek. The latter have been and will continue to be chosen partners to walk with on my playful, creative journey.

As I write I am aware of my desire to let go of constraint and get on with it. I am making an attempt to write way ahead of my thinker! I’m a body intellectual, amongst the many facets of Mary Alice, and so its a challenge to get ahead of this-is or thats-is that want to be heard. There is so much that I do not know, haven’t seen, haven’t experienced and I want it all!

As I write I am aware of those writers that I admire. I love their style of writing, their courage, their way of languaging what they have to give voice to. Critics are always going to be part of the scene because I dare to share. I am interested in traveling to the multitudinous places that my dreams will take me. No pressure folks! Ha! Part of the fun is planning the trips with no expectations and the freedom to include everything imaginable without concern for cost, where I will stay, or an itinerary.

I remember when my husband, Michael, and I  traveled to London for a month’s stay. He created a color-coded grid with the dates of our stay and every aspect of our trip–reservations, tickets, time slots; train, plane, automobile…Horrors! We made an agreement that every bit of the schedule could be changed at a moment’s notice. Similarly, I DO NOT want my life’s journey to be on a grid. When I write I want to be able to switch tracks on a moment’s notice.

As I write, I am aware of the value I place on play and creativity in the everyday moments of my life especially in the moments where I dare the darkness, face my fears, meet my Shadow. I am grateful for those who walk with me as I struggle, those who walk with me as I stumble.

I am curious.

I am clearing what is not longer necessary.

As I write, I am aware of my desire to bring more consciousness into my playful, creative journey. Writing and creating in new ways helps my brain to stay limber, my heart to remain open, and my gut to speak the truth. Each time I make another attempt to dive deep into unknown waters I am freed to take another leap into the muck and beauty of what we call life.

To those who have dared the darkness, and those who have walked with them, without pity. ~ Marion Woodman, from Bone: Dying into Life

Tell the Story of Who You Are With Your Whole Heart

Important Question: What is keeping me from completing my memoir?

Psyche’s Answer: You must give birth to and release what you have been carefully nurturing for soooo long!

Courage: to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart

In 1987 I released my newborn into the waiting arms of his adoptive mom.

30 years later, I am struggling to release the story of who I am and what I am becoming…

After my mom died in 2008 I dreamed:

In the middle of the front yard of our home there are large stones that spell out a word:

The word is COURAGE


I became the Goddess without the feminine ground that would return me to humanity. 
I am beginning to understand the power of archetype. I am conscious and making choices YES!
This morning I wrote down a new writing schedule in my journal. These hours will be devoted to writing and preparation for birth.
I begin to page through the edited version of my manuscript and I see the words
bird
raven 
butterfly
and am able to fly, and dive deep, anew…and where I never imagined possible, until now. ~synchronicity in the moment of writing/excerpt from a friend’s email

I am doing what needs to be done to complete my memoir, perform my life, discover more…
My surrogate son’s 30th birthday is Saturday. This is the first birthday I am able to wish him a
Happy Birthday!
 I am celebrating my son’s life, our story.
What I said yes to…
I will never say yes to again…
AND…
I am the woman, I am today because of my experience as a surrogate mother
AND
because I play
because I create
because I write… I am READY to complete a lengthy work filled with story, images, dreams, and letters.
I am READY to deepen my work and accept the challenge of completing my work. It is difficult to write about completion and release…there’s a lot for me to learn. This is another step in making sense of what holds me back. Not wanting to let go has brought me to tears, sobbing, many times. I can do this!
IMAGINE what will birth next?!
I’m going to keep writing and watch to see what synchronicities emerge. Undoubtedly many of these connections will bring difficulties and challenges + de-light!
Want to find out more about our Memoir Project? Great! 
 

Play, Generosity & Gratitude

I believe that Playfulness * Generosity * Gratefulness are a splendid trio of human qualities that help us live fully and lovingly in Community.

There are a number of inspiring people who have helped me over the years. Periodically I like to send out my applause and thank you to a few of my supporters and share their amazing creative work.

So here goes…

Christine and Drew Gilbert

Christine and Drew have been very supportive and have been helping me develop my creative skills as a playful, creative entrepreneur. We Create offers a host of courses to help people take the steps necessary to make the creative life of their dreams realized. For me, those steps include goal-setting and monetization.

I love to write and I want to be more successful at blogging both as a passion and as a way to grow and sustain Play=Peace. If I want to keep helping others to move ahead on their playful journeys I need to do a bit of self-care and make sure that what I do is balanced in all ways–including financial.

Christine and Drew have grown their creative business while traveling with their kids (they have a new baby! Congratulations to the new parents!). These two know what they are doing and they do it well, so they probably won’t need any advice. However, for any other new parents, like Christine and Drew, there is always advice online. It can be hard raising a child, especially if you have limited funds. Luckily, there are methods of reducing the cost of some things, such as car insurance. By cutting down on car insurance, new parents can have more money to spend on their new child. For more money-saving tips, new parents can always learn more online. If you are anything like Christine and Drew, you should make amazing parents!
I have learned so much from both of them and hope to meet up with them in Vancouver, BC in early Autumn for a Monetization Weekend.

Karen McMillan

Karen has been a supporter of my play-based, depth-oriented work for many years. She is known as the Yinpreneur and Retreat Muse. I have worked with Karen as my coach and I have benefitted from attending Karen’s courses and retreats.

Karen generously has offered her time and expertise over the years we have known each other.

When I want to slow down to speed up my success, Karen is the friend I will reach out to for a hug and mindful exploration.

Flora Bowley

Flora is a NEW inspirational woman in my life. I’m so grateful to have found her! I believe it was during a creative online retreat that I first heard her name. Flora and Team Love have offered me a scholarship to the Creative Revolution eCourse which starts Valentine’s Day (all Heart). I am so grateful for this opportunity at a time of MAJOR SHIFTS in my life. This is truly the year of NEW BEGINNINGS.

I LOVE Flora’s painting style (I live with a master watercolorist and I want to paint more in my own, unique PLAYFUL STYLE). Flora blends her painting lessons with movement, meditation, and many other marvelous and magical inspirations!!! Can’t wait to begin my own ‘Creative Revolution’.

There are so many other inspirational people in my life that I want to mention but for now I’ll stop here…

Thank you so much Christine and Drew, Karen, and Flora for your faith in me and your support of Play=Peace and the playful work I LOVE 🙂


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

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR MEMOIR PROJECT

 

Podcast: The Art of Playing in the Everyday

[ctt template=”3″ link=”8yn00″ via=”no” ]Be Curious. Begin to Play with Whatever is Before You at the Moment. http://ctt.ec/8yn00+ #playintheeveryday #play[/ctt]

I jumped on ZCast and recorded my first podcast about what led me to a re-claiming of play and creativity in my life and the practice of ‘the art of playing in the everyday’.

What do you mean by play, Mary Alice?

What does it mean to play in the every day?

Between the ages of 35-40 I began to re-claim play in my life. I was drawn to dance, singing, and storytelling, improv classes, InterPlay, Voice-Movement Therapy originating out of London, authentic movement, and sand play.

I had just started a doctoral program in clinical psychology with an emphasis in depth psychology. I was recording my dreams while completing my hours to sit for my licensed, clinical social work written and oral exams. I wanted to go into private practice as a depth-oriented psychotherapist.

I was transitioning from a woman who ‘performed her life’ as

  • a single mother of 3 children
  • as a registered nurse working in high-risk obstetrics and antepartum care
  • as a surrogate mother for her psychotherapist and her husband
  • as a clinician
  • as a researcher
  • as a student

and transforming into a woman whose focus

  • was on her dreams and what the higher Self wanted for Mary Alice
  • playing in ways she was drawn to
  • creating through writing, performance, improvisational dance, and storytelling.

I started to see a man on California’s central coast whom I would marry 4 years later. (*we’ve been together now 25 years!) When I first started seeing Michael on weekends and holidays I was preparing myself for an empty nest. Two of my 3 children wanted to attend school in Washington state and my youngest daughter wanted to try living with her Dad for a while. After seeing Michael for a year, I quit my full-time job as a health education coordinator and instructor for Kaiser Permanente and moved to Cambria. I settled into a new life accompanied  by my golden retriever, Gem. Michael had a basset hound named Dandy. We remodeled a home in town. For the first time in many years I was not working full-time as a single mom. New possibilities opened.

Many times over the years I have been asked, How did you do it?

The answer is, I made choices.

When I first met Michael I was dreaming of Red-Tail Hawk. SHE and HER energy led me to Michael. My dreams foretold our meeting and what would develop as a result of our relationship. HAWK’s energy in me allowed me to embrace a chapter in my life that many counseled me against.

What are you doing?

I had a full-time, well-paid, professional position as a health educator. I was about to begin a new career as a depth-oriented psychotherapist.

My dreams insisted that I PLAY

I Listened.

I was led to people and spaces where I could experiment, try on new ways of living my life and understand my life’s work. A series of inquiries, readings, and sessions with healers and my analytical work with Jungian analysts repeated the message:

You are called to play and creativity. You will help others find more laughter, more play, more creativity in their lives.

As I embraced my calling, step-by-step, I discovered not only ways to play with groups and tribes that I discovered along the way but, also, and importantly, I started to see all aspects of my life as play and playful. I poked around and tried on ways to play with my night and waking dreams;  creating healthy, loving relationships; playing while at work! and I envisioned and sought out ways that play opens doors to creativity as a parent, grandparent, professional, entrepreneur, writer, artist, and much more.

Every day mundane tasks no longer were a drudge or something I had to do, but, instead could be played with and play-full.

My walks, hikes, gardening, time spent outdoors all took on a new cast–a playful one!

Nature is Playful!

Everywhere I looked I could see PLAY.

and so it is today. Even in the most challenging moments

PLAY IS AT THE FOREFRONT.


What do you mean by play, Mary Alice?

What does it mean to play in the every day?

I invite you to listen to my podcast and consider for yourself:

Are there ways that I bring more play and playfulness into my life–at home, at work, while dreaming and creating?

I don’t want you to miss anything!

If you are not already receiving our Wednesday ‘Play Notes‘ with play-based quotes, resources, and updates? CLICK HERE

DID YOU KNOW? that I am available to work with you one-on-one as a play-based, depth-oriented mentor? WORK/WITH ME!

The 21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge begins on January 5, 2017. It’s FREE but you DO NEED TO REGISTER.  Register NOW!

Conception: Each Story Has A Beginning and Then…

Experience tells me that writing memoir is first–to conceive.

…to become pregnant with…

play and create

Its taken many years of playing with art-making, writing, and storytelling to come to an understanding of my life view and play-based process. In the end, It’s really simple! Play opens the Door to Creativity.

conception

There are events in our lives that change everything, shape our life view and how we move in the world, influence what actions we take to create a better world. These experiences are seeds that grow in understanding as we develop.

My playful journey and creative process really took off when I understood that my experience of being a surrogate mother was not the real story, but, instead, a core event in my life that helped me turn a corner and understand my life’s purpose.

 pregnancy

As we grow and develop there are times when life offers us challenges and at other times we can feel at ease with the world. Some of the parts of the creative process may be effortless and others may feel like we are laboring and having to push really hard to force our creation into the world!

I’ve written and re-drafted a number of forms of my memoir’s manuscript over the last 10 years+ and have kept a running journal of my dreams, emotions, and insights as I’ve continued to progress as a writer. My journaling has been written by hand. In the last few years my journals have become visual and now include images, notes, and other treasures.

postpartum

After we give birth to any creation there is a fourth stage of labor, the postpartum.

The after-birth

My postpartum includes all that has happened since the birth of my surrogate son. Everything I have learned from art-making, performance, and writing about my experience influences my life’s work and life path.


The 21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge is accepting registrations now.

Click Here for registration and details!

 

21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge

[ctt template=”3″ link=”nae28″ via=”no” ]Lets Get Started! The 21-day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge begins February 6, 2017 #startyourmemoir[/ctt]

These are the stories of our lives. Writing a memoir can be at once cathartic and at the same time paralyzing. How do you put into words the most personal and deeply felt moments of your life? I was faced with this same question as I wrote my memoir about my 1987 decision to become a surrogate and everything that followed. Now I’m helping writers begin their own writing journey with a 21 day writing challenge that will gently encourage you and give you the tools to break through your creative blocks. 

Why 21 Days?

You won’t write your entire book in this time, but research has shown this is enough time to form a lasting habit. We’re going to start the process of playfully challenging our creativity and the intention is to set you on the path so you can build a meaningful writing practice. Write your memoir. Share your story. Discover what it means to dig deep into the well of your experience.

21-days of prompts, ideas & images to inspire, motivate, and encourage you.

A playful, creativity, depth-oriented community to support you. That is my intention.

How it works

Starting on February 6th, you’ll get one email a day with inspirational, play-based, creative prompts. There’s a community group on Facebook, and we’ll support and cheer each other on. It’s free to join and it’s entirely self-paced. You’ll work on your writing when and where the inspiration strikes.

About Me

I earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. I’m a creative play coach living in the coastal town of Port Angeles in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. 

It is totally FREE to participate in our 21-day Challenge, however, you do need to register. 

CLICK ‘SAVE ME A SPOT’ to receive the daily prompts and to be added to the private FB group.

Save Me A Spot

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The Value of Playfulness: Live Each Moment to the Fullest

 

image-7If I had to live my life over again,

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.

I’d relax

I would limber up.

I would be sillier than I have been this trip.

I would take few things seriously.

I would take more chances.

I would take more trips.

I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers.

I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live seriously and sanely hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments.

And if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them.

In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.

If I had to do it over again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had to live my life over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.

I would go to more dances.

I would ride more merry-go-rounds.

I would pick more daisies.

~Nadine Stair (Age 80)

Have a Difficult Time Playing?

  • Are you Fear-FULL or Play-FULL?
  • Are you afraid you will LOOK FOOL-ish when you PLAY?
  • Are you worried that you will FAIL?
  • Do you want to ACT YOUR AGE as an ADULT?
  • Don’t have the Time or Don’t Want to Take the Time to Play?

image-9

We block ourselves from growing, changing, enjoying life. 

Want to Open the Door?  Work with/Me!

 

Play=Peace: What’s the One Big Thing YOU NEED?

Many of you are enthusiastic followers of Play=Peace (Thank you!) or you may just happen to open this post and discover us. (Welcome!)

For years I have been speaking, writing, performing, leading events and retreats, and collaborating with a number of inspirational creatives. When I founded Play=Peace I was a play-based, depth-oriented, licensed clinical social worker. I released that part of my identity a little over a year ago and now offer individual and play-based services as a mentor (an experienced and trusted advisor). I’m devoting more and more of my time to writing and art-making. I love, love, love working with individual clients on Skype, via phone, or in-person. I continue to co-create with some amazing professionals. Daily I create an intention to play in the everyday and act for the greater good.

I have a question for you all! I really, really, really would appreciate it if you would take the time to share your answer here in the comments, by email or phone. The reason I do what I do is YOU! I WANT you to en-JOY life to the fullest. Your feedback is a very IMPORTANT part (yes crucial part) of my being able to help you as you move ahead and become who you are on your unique journey.

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My hope in writing this post is that after receipt of your answers to this one question I will be able to offer you what you need. Simple as that. 

What’s the one big thing we are missing that you need?

Are you most interested in:

  • Setting Healthy Boundaries
  • Improving your Self-Esteem
  • Decision-Making
  • Playful Parenting
  • Memoir Writing & Art-Making
  • Decreasing Stress
  • Composing a Creative Life
  • Play-Based Approach to Depth Psychology
  • Setting Goals & Actions to Meet those Goals
  • Forgiveness & the Freedom to Become
  • Play-based Entrepreneurs
  • Playful Writing
  • [fill in the blank with your need so I can serve you better!]

There is no hidden agenda here. I really want to know what you need so I can deliver!

You can comment to this post, send a note, or call me directly at 206/200-4542.

Your feedback is a very IMPORTANT part (yes crucial part) of my being able to help you as you move ahead and become who you are on your unique journey.

Thank you so much for your support and help. Creating what you need through a play-based, depth-oriented approach is my goal! My guarantee is that I will take all of my experience, learned skills, and creativity to support you as you imagine, play, and create a life of joy and purpose.

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Play: A Mutual Exchange of Gifts

“The nature of living and loving is the act of reciprocity. As women, we are told that to be the guest is to receive. We are told that to be the host is to give. But what if it is the reverse? What if it is the guest who gives to the host and it is the host who receives from the guest each time she sets her table to welcome and feed those she loves?

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To be the guest and the host simultaneously is to imagine a mutual exchange of gifts predicated on respect and joy. If we could adopt this truth, perhaps we as women would be less likely to become martyrs.” ~Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

I LOVE Terry Tempest Williams! One of my favorite books that I go back time-and-time again to is When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

I took an afternoon walk and then sat down to write a post about the benefits of volunteering this summer. After writing for a bit I did a Google search to look for quotes on volunteering and service. As I read through the list of quotes I began to squirm. Something didn’t feel right.

Yet another lesson…

It wasn’t until I found Terry’s quote that I started to understand. Once again I couldn’t see what was so obvious but in my Shadow (hidden away). What I am being pushed to explore are the many ways I can volunteer–or freely offer to share my gifts.

  • giving and receiving are key words in my ongoing story.
  • important puzzle pieces in my memoir project

Volunteering–freely offering to share your gifts

  • What is too much giving?
  • Who am I becoming as I help to instill a love of nature, music, and the arts in others?
  • What is my ethic as a volunteer?
  • What is most important?

My ethic is play

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Playing with a mutual ex (change) of gifts

This one is challenging.

Play is joy. Playing with our painful experiences brings joy. Even though I’ve written about giving and receiving, setting healthy boundaries, and creating balance in life for years…

This one is challenging.

Shadow play is the only way for me (or any of us) to live authentically, free to share our gifts, our stories.

  • In my 20s I borrow money and give gifts to my friends in exchange for recognition.
  • In my 30s I volunteer to give away a baby and following that give-away begin to put the puzzle pieces together and visualize a healthier picture of myself as a giver and receiver.
  • In my 40s I re-marry and am diagnosed with breast cancer. These transitions in my life provide me with opportunities to practice receiving from others with a full heart. Trials and errors continue with what and how I give to others but things are improving.
  • In my 50s both of my parents die. With their deaths comes an understanding of my own mortality and a desire to create positive change.

Now I’m in my 60s…

This one is challenging.

I am playing. Sharing my ongoing story.

Helping others to create a playful foundation.

Focusing on the Important Bits: Orange is the Best Color

During a graduation celebration at my daughter’s home last weekend I heard my grandson, Chase, call to me in the backyard.

Nana!

I bent down to give Chase a hug. After we embraced, he said excitedly,

Nana, I saw a sunset! IMG_3731

How wonderful Chase. What colors did you see?

After pausing for a minute, Chase said,

Orange is the best.

and then, he ran off to play with the other kids…


When Chase told me about the Beauty he witnessed I remembered:

Dreams that my Mom shared with me in preparation for death. Dreams of being levitated and carried gently on a magic carpet by angels. Dreams of travel. Dreams of being visited by deceased family members and friends.


The sun sets each evening in the west preparing us for the final descent of our lives.

Each moment in our lives has its Beauty and can be explored with curiosity and wonder. The people in my life, both youth and elders, both in my inner circle and those that I meet along the way, offer me sparks of Hope through their trust and openness.

Courage comes from the Heart.

The ability to step up and take a risk takes Courage.

We moved to the North Olympic Peninsula a little less than 2 years ago. I fell in love with the Olympics when our family first visited the Hoh Rainforest, Kalaloch Beach, and Hurricane Ridge. This year I began working as a volunteer with the Olympic National Park, North Olympic Land Trust, and the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. I’m also volunteering with the Juan de Fuca Arts Foundation and spent a wild 4-days dancing, listening to some great music, and meeting people from all over the Northwest at the JFFA Music Festival over Memorial Day Weekend.

As I meet community members in town, hiking, at an arts event, in drumming and healing circles, or while out taking my daily walks we share our stories. At this point I’m being offered so many stories I often can’t remember who told me what. My Swing! nature loves people and the sharing of stories. Ideas are flowing and I’m envisioning what’s next for my play-based work locally and beyond.

I’m playing with Shape and my Organizer. Many of you who read my blogs, have attended archival memoir project (AMP) performances, or participated in Play=Peace workshops or retreats know that I’ve been working and struggling in many ways towards the goal of publishing my first memoir. Well, its been a playful journey!

Years ago an editor at the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference told me that a memoir is not about the experience but about what follows that experience. I took that to heart and have focused on who I am becoming as I have been writing, re-writing the drafts of my story and its postpartum (or what I’ve learned from my experience and want to share with my readers).

The trouble is that my lived experience and what followed is ongoing, playful, and creative and I haven’t wanted to end the story and send my baby off into the world! I gave one baby away as a surrogate mother and last year gave my son away at his wedding. I’ve just been having a hard time letting go…

Anyone else have trouble letting go?

I’d love to hear about it! I need the en-couragement to let go of this baby so I can FLY!

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The Art of Playing in the Everyday