writingmybrain

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Summer’s Children-Part Two

Through play, we learn about ourselves and others around us—siblings, parents, friends. It all starts with how we play. Do we observe, get stuck in, wait, or blunder in, and see what’s happening as we go? How we play as children, provides indicators of what and how we will do our lives as we grow through the years.

I have been conducting an informal study on play for over fifty years. I started as a teenager looking after neighbour’s children. Three; the middle boy scribbled on walls, jumped on couches, threw pillows and defied everyone as he pushed boundaries. He defied preconceived notions and rules surrounding him. He exasperated his mother and his father dismissed him.

I found his capacity to play extreme as he pushed limits with a mischievous smile. He seemed defiant to see how far he could go. His ingenuity was captivating as he tested, re-tested and continued to test. I discovered his play was integral to what he expressed emotionally and later, how his life unfolded. What he felt came out in his play. As the young teen I was then, I witnessed links between behaviour, play, and attitude.

He became a salesman, and a general all-round dare-devil; motorbikes, jumping out of planes, extreme sports. It was part of his play at four, and it manifested in his play at 14, 24 and 34 each time intensifying play. I’d hazard a guess that at fifty-four and eighty-four he will somehow push boundaries.

Of course, I’ve had my own kids since that time, have grandkids and have worked with hundreds of young people and I have to say, in general, how a child plays as a youngster is frequently a gauge for what they will chose as work and more importantly, what activities really make their heart sing—where time evaporates—sometimes called soul or spirit purpose.

On those occasions, where we cannot imagine doing anything else; that activity that wakes us in the small hours, get us up in the morning early on a weekend, even on holidays. Chances are—our spirit awakens us to this activity because even in its most challenging moments—it feels like play. 

This excitement is what I see in children, still. I see the adult they will turn into and those activities that bring them alive. I think the sadness of it all, is not that it exists in each of us—that is its gift— it is rather that so many of us ignore it, and feel the drive and perhaps obligation to do what makes most money, rather than allow our awareness to grab onto that one thing that makes us come alive. It isn’t easy that much I recognize. We wander around a bit, sometimes an entire lifetime, but when we arrive at that place that ignites us, inflames our heart, that is our happiness, our joy.

Perhaps it is a luxury of opportunity, yet I see it as an inner compulsion that we are unable to let-go of because it feels like play to us. It helps us to connect to ourselves. Our inner selves and if there is a luxury attached to it, it is the luxury of age, and having time to reflect, and give it breath in our lives. That play—perhaps not the actual play of our youth—but our attitude toward play, still exists in our lives as elders. I like to track it backwards now, see if I can guess what they did as a child, and see how it is reflected in their life today. Awesome stuff!   

Writing Practice: Remember a time when you were actively playing as a child where time seemed to disappear. Write from that standpoint; identify your feelings, thoughts, the activities themselves, and how your inner and outer landscapes altered, or didn’t, during the experience. If you can’t remember a specific feeling, or thought, imagine it as you re-tell the story. How does this reflect in your life today? Does it? If not imagine how it may have. Have fun with this; its play!

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Un-stick Yourself!

This challenge was given to me recently: write a 100 word poem (excluding title). My challenge to you is write either a poem (if you’re so inclined) or a prose piece. If you go over the word count—no stresses, no worries. PLAY- write4health! It’s in our best interest!

I used the above image to propel me—I muscle tested for it rather than because I liked or disliked it. To muscle test, I picked a number between 1-20; muscle tested top or bottom (of the stack); then went to the stack of photographs I use with clients, counted up to the number and the above photograph arrived.

Some readers may call it random, I call it magic! It is not an image I would have necessarily picked however, because it checked I felt committed to the process of what would be revealed in the poetry practice process. I enjoy this process simply because it takes my mind out of the process. This often will mean I have to dig a little deeper than perhaps my mind would like!

Also recently I read in Henry Grayson, PhD book “Your Power to Heal” an excellent chapter/ explanation on how to muscle test in the event you are unfamiliar with the technique [Chapter 4, pages 72-79]. Even though my technique is a variation on his suggestions you are likely familiar with some of his techniques. I have also found Your Body Doesn’t Lie by Dr. John Diamond another great source of information on how and why a muscle test works. It is a technique I have used certainly in the past ten years since the accident although I have used the technique since 1998.

For the purpose of this poetry/prose practice use an image that moves, inspires or makes you laugh—have a go—Feel free to add your creation in comments below, share with a friend, a family member. If you go over the word count, no matter—simply put the pen on the paper and PLAY! Unravel, untangle and un-stick yourself!

The Memorial Bench caught my attention. The young man was merely 30 years old. He, as the bench were resting in a small church yard on the edge of ranch land. 


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Whip a shitty…

Recently, I heard this great phrase—to whip a shitty (re-articulated by TAD Hargraves from Marketing for Hippies.com ). In his take he voiced that when we get stuck simply start, begin. The word commit means exactly that—start, begin, and whipping a shitty is simply getting something down on paper— then from there re-write, recraft. This could be a sales letter, a life letter, a personal letter. Bottom line- get unstuck by beginning one letter at a time, one act at a time. The overall arc of anything can bog us ALL down and the only real way to move that stickiness is one action at a time.

When we “think” perfection first time around, drop it- whip a shitty—get “it” down and let go of anything resembling perfection. I often think of Brene Brown’s book—The Gift of Imperfection— and remind myself of the gifts of imperfection constantly as I stumble and pick myself up with so much of my life. When it arrives on my doorstep in lets say a blog, my website (write4health.ca) and I’m tweaking here and there looking for that perfection (which largely lies in my head), I am going to embrace the shitty, get unstuck, and remind myself that perfection is an illusion- because truth be observed- one persons perfection is another persons imperfection—so let it go and do your best.

That reminds me of a funny story I read once—tell me, what person woke up one morning and said today, I am going to do my worst. All the best or worst amounts to, is polarity. As human be-ings we all live somewhere within the split and it varies from day to day. My sense is that we, certainly I do, need to whip a shitty more often and release perfection into the outer realms of imperfection and embrace it.

A while ago my granddaughters (8 & 6) were waiting at the airport in the car for their mother to emerge from customs after a week away at a conference; they shot a lip synced video to the radio. They didn’t get stuck, they played. They didn’t care about perfection, they had fun. They didn’t over think it;  they whipped a shitty and I laughed at it on replay. It was great, imperfect and glorious.

This year-whip a shitty- I plan to!

 

 


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Stillness- a way of life…

Stillness blogStillness is one of the twelve Vision Cards- a visual reminder and/or prompt for the Possibility PLAYbook to be published in July. The PLAYbook  is the final piece of the Health and Wellness Package– an outgrowth of the past seven years of recovery from a motor vehicle accident that changed my life on January 12, 2007.

In search of a way to climb into a new life with a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and multiple physical injuries, I sought PLAY (Purpose, Lightness, Action, Yes), once I was able. PLAY became my path. When I faced any challenge, I sought ways to play with it in simplistic ways. This was about eighteen months after the accident. Subsequent years have been about recovery, one step at a time, and exploring the tools of PLAY.

P: Finding purpose is essential to anyone, especially when something interrupts the flow of one’s life- be it an event, dis-ease, a physical and/or metaphoric death- anything that shatters and/or alters our life journey.

L: Lightness is an ability to bring “light” (and laughter) into anything and everything that we face on our life path. It is a capacity to find a gift of any traumatic event and reframe it in a lighthearted way in small and significant ways. It is about shedding “light” into the dark, and darkest places of our lives, and allowing that “light”—those tiny tendrils of grace— to filter down on us that offer choice.

A: Action, is about embracing those tiny tendrils of grace, however they show-up, and taking baby-steps along our life path—especially when everything in us, in saying “no”—taking any action, helps “stuck” energy to move, change and transform.

Y: Yes, is about simply saying “yes” to life.

YES I can…involve trust, seek stillness- two Vision Cards highlighted in this blog so far. There are ten more to go…

Today, I “pulled” the Stillness Card. I’ve just returned from a 1,600 km road trip. The good news is that I was able to do it, although it took two days going up and back- a total of four days- which is the good thing. Seven years ago, I could have driven one-way in a day- and three years ago I could not have driven half-way. I call that progress- slow and steady, just like the tortoise!  That is what health and wellness is all about- never say never, and, one step at a time.

For the next two weeks, I want to contemplate stillness in my life. While the image itself is static, it indicates constant movement- the sky, the sandpiper, the waves, the sand crawling with life. It is like much of our life—constant movement— and in many cases that unbroken demand is a mere perception. Taking time-out and finding stillness within in our daily activities comes from the inside out, and becomes an opportunity to ground ourselves, and move forward in equilibrium.  Join me…