Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On Not Two Blogs

OK, so I tried two blogs for a while, and guess what? It doesn't really work for me right now. 

At least not these two blogs. (I do have an idea of one that might be distinct and different enough to work for me.)

So for the time being, and for reasons that I describe more fully in my most recent post (that I hope you will read) on Trusting Delight, I am going to pretend for a while that this blog doesn't exist. The reasons relate to that Rule #1 of my first post, the one that said: Tell the truth. Be as gutsy and honest as possible.

It's possible that a clear reason for this blog will emerge some day, and it will be great that it already exists. But until that time, Learning to Play is joining Trusting Delight. 

If you've read my few posts on Learning to Play, I do thank you! And I invite you to keep reading Trusting Delight and to send it to friends, cousins, and anyone else you think might enjoy it. Thanks!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Playfulness loves Imperfection

Since reading a blog post by Christine Kane last week about taking "imperfect action," I've been thinking a lot about perfectionism as an enemy of playfulness. Nothing kills creative, playful ideas like a dose of perfectionist thinking. As Christine says, waiting until your effort, action, or creation is "perfect" before you try it or put it out there in the world is a great way to ensure that it never gets out there at all. 

I know all too well how effectively perfectionist thinking can prevent me even from trying to get an idea out of my head (so many great ideas!) and into writing, or painting, or some other form of human action. "What if I fail? What if I mess it up/botch it/hate what I do/waste all that paint/make a fool of myself, etc.?" (Perfectionism may help me to reach for high standards, but it sounds a lot like the voice of fear, does it not?)

To which an obvious reply might be: "And what if you never try? How likely are you to succeed that way?"

Several months ago in my other blog, I wrote a post about Ms. Frizzle, the eccentric creative teacher of "The Magic Schoolbus" fame. In particular, I cited one of her favorite expressions as great advice for creative undertakings, curious explorations, and certainly for learning to play. "Take chances! Get messy! Make mistakes!"

Imperfect actions might be imperfect, but they are a whole lot better than no action at all! They make forward movement possible, even probable. The air begins to feel more charged with possibilities! And often the messes and mistakes lead to new discoveries, new ideas, and even to the kind of happy accident that's better than anything you could have ever planned.

Maybe I'll make it a "spiritual practice" to take at least one deliberately imperfect action a day! Who knows where it will get me, but I'm curious to find out--one imperfect, playful action at a time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Not to be Playful

Here's a funny thing: on Monday, a holiday, and a beautiful day at that, as I was holding in mind the idea of starting this "learning to play" blog, I got into a funk in which I was most unplayful toward myself! 

While my neighbors took turns napping on their new back deck (we see backyard to backyard), I totally ignored my own advice and wisdom and broke my own rules. Especially rule #3, which says: "Don't push too hard." Which, while written about the blogging process, really applies to just about everything, right?

Nooooo. Not for me on Monday. So now I have to follow rule #1 and be gutsy and honest about it.

I really wanted just to sit lazily in the sun, maybe even just doze off in a chair, but the old slave-driver, high-achiever, never-good-enough part of me just wouldn't have it. First I made myself plant some seedlings in our tiny vegetable patch, because on such a gorgeous day, someone who says she loves gardening (that would be me) should want to be gardening, not dozing off in the sun.

Then--this gets pretty humiliating to admit--I reconciled the bank statement, never a favorite job, because I figured (I can't say I "reasoned") I was already in a bad mood, so why not go ahead and ride the black wave and deal with finances?! (Unspoken thought: why waste a good mood on reconciling the bank statement?) How's that for positive thinking about money?

I can't quite remember what I did to my poor self after that, and it's probably just as well. The strange and totally embarrassing thing is that I knew what I was doing every step of the way; I knew I had a choice; I knew I could try to think of something gentler, kinder, more fun or playful or just plain relaxing to do. But no, I just kept right on pushing, pushing, pushing. And punishing, punishing, punishing.

And then of course there was the internal voice that started playing: "Learning to play, huh? So you think you're an expert on playing, eh, and you spend your holiday doing this? Who's going to want to read your blog, anyway? Blah, blah, blah. Bash, bash, bash."

By the time I crawled upstairs to bed like a demoralized war refugee, I scribbled a little note in my gratitude journal ("gratties" for short) as I recalled what I'd done to myself during the afternoon: "What was that all about?"

What's amazing is that I actually decided to start this blog the very next day. Maybe as an act of defiance of the old slave-driver, high-achiever, never-good-enough part of me; maybe as an act of deep and heartfelt hope and faith that I won't go down that road again too, too soon. Maybe also as an act of gratitude that learning to play doesn't mean being an expert, and you always get to start over. Playfully. And when you screw up, it just gives you something to blog about.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Learning to Play

What's this? A  new blog? Yup, it sure looks that way. 

I've decided to see what happens if I split my blogging life into two pieces: first, keep my existing blog, Trusting Delight, for eclectic thoughts, images and artwork, much as it is right now. 

Second, make this new blog, Learning to Play, a place where I attempt a more single-focused blog about playfulness and creativity as elements of a more satisfying and more joyful life. We'll see how it goes.

I hope that "Learning to Play" is a theme broad enough to embrace all kinds of things (and of course since I'm the blogger, I get to decide!) while also challenging me to develop this one thread from a number of angles and through different situations over time. Since art is one of my primary forms of playfulness, it's likely that images of artwork will find themselves here, as well. 

As I start this new blog, I am laying down a few, and only a few, rules for myself. After all, the blog's description reads: "Fewer rules. More fun. Happier Life."

1. Tell the truth. 

Be as gutsy and honest as possible, while of course respecting the feelings of others, or at least trying to steer clear of legal questions of libel!

2. Be playful about it. 

I seem to do my best writing and my best painting/drawing/collaging when I stay in touch with a playful and curious spirit. (Maybe another way to say this is: don't take yourself too seriously.)

Which leads to:

3. Don't push too hard.

When not enjoying the process, stop and do something else: take a walk, drink a glass of water, stand on my head (I can't do that very well, at least not yet, but I can at least bend over and look at the world upside-down), or do something my mother wouldn't approve of.

That should be enough rules to get me started.