What if play is important?

I played yesterday.

After my Monday zoom call with the artist with whom I am working on a collaboration, I felt uplifted, excited, energized. I decided it was time to play.

After finishing my piece for this week’s collaboration, I decided to set aside some time to play.

And I laugh. Part of the wonder of play is its spontaneity, and there I was, planning my play.

And then I laugh some more. How adult of me. Judging my play right from the get go.

The inspiration ‘to play’ came from a post on Orly Avineri‘s Instagram feed. Orly is an intuitive artist whose work inspires me to let go and be present. On her birthday last week, Orly wrote, “When we were preschoolers we would go outside and build things from found materials, and when inside, we’d scribble and doodle on walls or any piece of paper laying around.”

And she continued on to list things we did or didn’t do ‘on purpose’ or with an intention or reason or need to be heard or seen, free or discovered.

We just did what called to our heart.

It was her finale to her post that resonated most deeply, “…what happened to us along the way? How did we accumulate so many intentions, questions, explanations, reasons, and purposes to do what we intrinsically know how to do so well?

No wonder all of us freeze, perpetually. No wonder we, as adults, are always in “seek” mode, never fully satisfied.”

Ahhh…. and my soul expanded. Seek mode.

Always seeking. Doing. Becoming.

Always looking for an answer, a reason, a purpose, a sign.

Always searching for satisfaction, fulfillment, destination, destiny. A new ‘me’, new way, new idea, new beginning.

Always seeking.

What if living isn’t in seeking the answer to the question “Who am I?”

What if it’s in the living ‘the what’ of who we are with all our heart on fire with the energy of Love driving us into the arms of the deep passion within to express our sacred human nature in living colour? What if play is all we need to set our soul dancing to the music our whole body, every cell, every pulse of blood, every beat of our heart, movement of our hands and feet rejoices in?

What if play is the gateway to experiencing all of life?

So… I decided to try it out. Play.

I painted both sides of a long piece of paper I cut from the roll I use to cover my worktable. There was no ‘rhyme nor reason’ to the colours I used. The design. The placement of the paint on the Gellipad I used to monoprint the paper. There was just the desire to feel my way through to the joy that comes with being immersed in creativity, dancing with the muse, releasing my thinking mind to my body’s ‘knowing’.

And then, I folded the paper in half lengthwise, and then into a booklet with 8 folds. I drew a doll shape onto the front, cut it out and la voilá. I had a paper doll chain.

Full disclosure, earlier I had told my art-partner in our zoom call that my next project was to create a 3 part workshop on paper dolls. There is a purpose, process and practice to the workshop. I even know what category it will fit in on my blog, “The Seeker’s Journey”.

Yeah — I know. So much irony there.

But, (and yes, there’s also a ‘but’ butting in) my desire to create the workshop is to awaken the creative child within, the one who knows how to play without intention, be present without purpose and be without becoming. So… the purpose is important, she says, laughing at herself ’cause again… yup. So much irony.

And there’s also truth. While I was painting and folding and drawing and cutting I wasn’t thinking about the workshop I wanted to create. There was no room for thinking while I was immersed in creating. There was simply the joy of being present within my inner child’s joy of being free to play, just for the fun of it.

It isn’t always easy. This playing. This staying in the moment, being present to everything in and all around us. Sometimes, we need visual and physical aids to unharness our thinking minds and release ourselves to the deep inner knowing of our bodies.

I’m not done. I have an intention (of course I do) of painting the dolls. I might even make dresses for them as I loved to do as a child.

Because here’s the thing I noticed as I played. I felt the air around me touching my skin. I heard the silence between the notes of each song playing in the background. And I heard the laughter of the child within as she delighted in the joy of playing with me in the field of creativity flowing all around.

I’m not done yet. But then, it’s never about getting done or the destination. It’s always about the journey.

Namaste

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And I am working on a 3 part online course on Playing with The Child Within. Stay tuned…. It promises to be a lot of fun! I’d love to hear what you think… Ok. Feel. Sense. Intuit. Yeah… what your child knows.

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PPS – I was also inspired by a beautiful thank you card I received from a lovely woman, fellow artist, Mitzi B. It’s a stunning piece of work and forms the backdrop in the photo.

I Dare You!

Like steam exploding from a bag of just popped, fresh out of the microwave, popcorn, there have been moments in my life when the only answer to address the issues burbling to the top of my consciousness has been to enter therapy.

The only way out is through.

Several weeks ago, when I stood in front of a mob and felt the heat of the anger they hurled at me burning my skin and searing my psyche, I had the courage to turn my back and walk away. It was all that I could do.

Walking away took me out of immediate danger. In walking away, I claimed my power to decide what is welcome, and what is not wanted, in my life.

The challenge with the deeply buried feelings and emotions that awoke through that encounter, is that they do not have separate from me feet to walk away. They are part of me. They have a voice calling out to be heard.

To find peace, I must listen and give them a safe space to be heard.

It is the gift I give myself to clear away vestiges of unease, voices from the past, spaces of discord lurking unknown, unseen until they rise up, in my psyche.

When the student is willing, the teacher appears.

My inner yearnings, my left-over from childhood trauma feelings of unease are all teachers.

To ignore them, to push them back down discredits the voice of truth that is saying, “Here is the door to freedom. Open it. Let me speak and be heard so you can walk through into the light of knowing your truth fearlessly in the now.”

Creating a safe and courageous space for others to explore their value, their worth, their sense of wonder at who they are, was why I started an art studio in a homeless shelter years ago. It was an act of giving through which I received the gifts of connection, friendship, meaning.

It was why I created a studio in our home so that I could explore my creative expression and release my inner yearnings to be free in the safe and courageous space of my studio.

It is all part of the journey, part of the process, part of growing, learning and becoming me.

Being in therapy is the same kind of gift of a safe and courageous space, only this time, I am gifting myself the space and place to speak up, explore, and discover my sense of wonder and awe of who I am when I let go of carrying messages from the past that do not fit my life today.

There is a part of me that wants to run way, to retreat, to go back to sleep.

But I will not. Cannot.

Truth is calling me back. Freedom is drawing me out.

We all encounter moments when we have to make a choice. To stand and fight. To retreat and hide. To hold ourselves in loving kindness as we walk confidently into the unknown spaces of our psyche willing to listen, feel, know the truth within.

The psyche is an amazing place. It holds memory. Thoughts. Feelings. Emotions. Ideas. It is permeable. Resilient. Strong. It can bend with one thought, leap in one breath, fall in one word. It holds us together. It can tear us apart. It connects us to today, and gives us courage to look into the past and see into tomorrow. And always, it holds us in place. Always, it keeps thinking, knowing, feeling, being what it is. Our friend. Our foe. Our greatest strength. Our weakest link. Our essence of being who we are, however we are, no matter what we are.

My psyche is calling me to let go so I can fly free.

I am heeding its call.

What about you? Are you willing to transform your thinking to set yourself free? Are you willing to take a journey into the unknown to discover all you know about being you?

I invite you to explore your options, or, as my inner child would say, I Dare You!

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

Inner brat children and other creatures of habit

Courage 8"x8" Pastel and acrylic on canvas Copyright 2016 Louise Gallagher

Courage
8″x8″
Pastel and acrylic on canvas
Copyright 2016 Louise Gallagher

Have you ever made a commitment to yourself and not followed through?

Okay. So if you answered, “No. Never.” you definitely don’t need to read what I write next. Stop reading now.

But, if you are like 99.9% of humans here on earth, you have probably made many commitments to yourself that you just haven’t kept.

In fact, some of you may be professional “Commitment to Self Breakers”.

Commitments can be big, or small things.

Take my commitment to treat my body with care and attention. I might have broken it yesterday. Oh, and the day before too maybe. I just might have cheated a teensy,weensy bit on my commitment to eat healthily.

Okay, a lot on Sunday. Those Nachos with my friend KP were too tempting, too delicious. And we had just finished an hour walk which included hiking up hills in the mud with Beaumont the super pooch. I deserved the treat!

Like many of you, I can rationalize anything. And that includes breaking commitments with myself.

Like any habit, breaking commitments with myself is learned behaviour.

Which means, I can unlearn the behaviour too. It just takes practice, patience and persistence. Oh, and a whole lot of willingness to do things differently.

Which is sometimes the challenge. I like my ruts. I am comfortable in doing some things the same old way because doing them the same old way means I don’t have to change.

And while I recognize that ‘change is here to stay’, my pesky little inner brat-child likes to put her hands on her hips, stomp her foot and declare in defiance to any suggestion I create change, “Don’t tell me what to do! I don’t have to change if I don’t want to.”

That’s the problem with the inner brat-child. She likes to be in control and her auto-responses are always based on  decisions made in the there and then when she reigned supreme, long before my prefrontal cortex had even finished its development. My inner brat-child is older than my inner wise-child who didn’t finish growing up until her mid-20s.

Making commitments with myself and keeping them is a test of my capacity to wrest control from the inner brat-child’s desire to not change, to not give up control, to not grow up.

I’ve decided to trick her. To reframe how I look at ‘change’ and do something differently.

First off, I’m not telling myself “I have to change”.

What I’m saying is, “Here’s an opportunity for fun and games. To create a new way of doing things that could be like… a big surprise!”

See, it’s important to play into the inner brat child’s love of surprises. Inner brat children like shiny and new toys. They are easily distracted and kind of get all hyped up on the idea of making every day like Christmas.

I’m hoping that reframing ‘change’ into something shiny and new might just distract my inner brat child from recognizing what I’m up to long enough to give what I’m up to time to grow into something more comfortable and less intimidating to her fear of losing control.

And yes, I’m willing to play games to trick my inner brat child. She’s always playing tricks on me. Turning the tables is fair game.

Secondly, I’m writing a letter to my inner brat child describing this new way of doing things and, I’m going to mail my letter to her.

Inner brat children also like mail that comes in the post box with stamps and all that jazz. It’s that shiny and new thinking again. Inner brat children are so stuck in the past, they have not developed an understanding of mail = bills as so many adults have. Instead of dreading mail, inner brat children often get all excited about the cool surprise it might just hold in store. Inner brat children like opening surprises.

Now, in my letter to my inner brat child I am going to keep the language simple. Small words, no ‘big ideas’, just lots of fun, exciting descriptive verse of what this new way of doing things will mean to ‘us’.

It’s important to identify with the inner brat child so that she feels less afraid and alone. It’s important to let her know in language she will understand what excitement is in store as we journey this new way of keeping commitments to our self.

I know. I know.

Wouldn’t it just be easier to tell her to take a hike and get on with it?

If I do the same thing again and again, I’ll get the same result.

In this case, a broken commitment to myself. Again.

So, I’m changing it up. Shaking up the status quo and trying out a different tack. Perhaps in the process, I’ll forget all about the discomfort of change and fall into love with the excitement of shiny and new.

Who knows? Anything is possible, even with inner brat children. Anyway, I’m kind of getting tired of listening to my inner brat child’s tantrums.

Time to change it up so she can take a break and go back to sleep deep within my psyche.

Strike one for the inner wise child! I’m feeling empowered already. In fact, I can taste the first sweet bites of the intoxicating fruit of keeping commitments with myself in the here and now!

Take that you inner brat!