“What I really, really want is to paint the world in rainbows of possibility” ~Tracy Verdugo

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Learning to Play Again



“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things... I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.”
Leo Buscaglia

A while back I got serious, not in a good way...way too serious. I forgot how to play. Small children, tantrums, sleepless nights, financial worries, health scares, struggling businesses, too much responsibility and an inability to ask for help sent me on a downwards spiral.
I spent the early years of our daughters lives (now 13 and 17) rushing from one task to another, forgetting to breathe deeply, mostly forgetting to savour the small moments.
A bout with melanoma and a baby with severe asthma made me plunge even more deeply into a frenzied pattern of work and denial, eventually leading to a breakdown (breakthrough:)) at the age of 33. I spent months suffering from debilitating panic attacks and finally made the decision to walk away from the business that was slowly swallowing me up.
I had been running on automatic, with clenched jaw and shallow breaths for so long that the journey back to a less serious take on life was neither quick nor easy but soooooooo worth it. It takes courage to look inside, courage to stop and question your motives and way of being in the world. For me there was an undeniable need for recognition, to be better than, work harder than, achieve more than anyone else.
Over time I learnt the tools I needed to deal with panic and began to be more kind towards myself. I started to paint, spent less time being a martyr and looking for things to be resentful about, and more time seeing the beauty in every moment....over the next 12 years changes slowly happened and as my passion for art grew so did my levels of happiness..... and then guess what? Money began to flow, our family flourished and opportunities began to open up around us. I also began to sing and write music with my husband, slowly gaining the confidence to sing in front of others. He built himself a beautiful mud brick studio on our property and then an art space to call my own. Finally we spent two years turning our little 2 bedroom beach shack into a gorgeous adobe home.



We worked pretty hard at this so when we were finished we decided to pursue a long held dream to travel with our girls for an extended period of time. Not allowing any obstacles to hinder us. we opened ourselves up to all possibilities and took off for 7 months to do nothing but play! From San Diego to Canada and then down into Mexico; we painted, explored, made music,spent time with family, swam, hiked, boated and generally had a great time. I can highly recommend it for anyone that feels they have lost the ability to play. In another post I'll describe all of the serendipitous events that led to the trip manifesting as we certainly had no viable financial plans, just the belief that it was going to happen and it did.:)

Here are some of the things I learned along the way


Community is an open door- all you have to do is not be afraid to enter
Being part of a community leads to a sense of belonging and trust.



Being able to trust means being able to be fully yourself; as silly or as serious as you want to be.


It really is the simplest things in life that bring us the most joy and the best memories.


Ritual, ceremony and tradition bring a sense of belonging and even the most serious of topics can be viewed in a more playful way if we allow it. During Day of the Dead Ceremonies altars to family members who have passed on are lovingly built and favourite items placed upon them; a bottle of tequila for Tio Jose, some chile rellenos for abuela, candy skulls for the ninos who have gone to be angelitos. Reverence and playfulness can work hand in hand.


A smile and an act of generosity will be remembered forever


You dont always have to follow the rules..no seatbelts on an amazing pilgrimage to the mountainous village of Juquila in Oaxaca


You really should stop and smell the roses :)


There can never be too many hugs in a day!


Remember to be grateful...every experience has something to teach us.


Commune with nature as often as you can.



Jump out of your comfort zone and ALWAYS say yes when someone asks you to dance ( except for maybe that creepy guy at the bar;p)


Unexplored paths are the best ones to walk along...

Especially with your dad :)


Dont look for the faults in each other, look for the best. Its easy to find as it lives in the same place as love...


There is something grand and awe-inspiring inside each one of us. self discovery is the ultimate form of play.