The Conundrum of Play

I'm fascinated by the infinite experiences we have of Work and Play. How what looks like Work for one, may be fun for another. Or how what ought to seem fun for everyone, according to one perspective, is actually draining and difficult for some. Right-brain / left-brain talk would have you believe it can be summed up simply, but I wonder. (There's a quick, fun test to see if you use more of one or the other HERE. )

I've had to do some real reflection and self-awareness around the notion of Play over the last few years, and especially through my work in IGNITE.

When I left my fulltime nursing job two years ago, to live a life by the guidance that was screaming at me from my very cells to pay attention, I remember saying to Steve that I didn't even know what I enjoyed doing anymore. It felt really sad to admit that aloud, and even worse to be experiencing it without knowing where or how to begin again.

I've come a long way to get back into living my truth. It hasn't been easy - and it's a work in progress.

In fact, ironically, some of the toughest Work of it has been in allowing myself to Play. Even in my art. There is a complicated weaving of stories that answer the question "why" I might be like that... but it boils down to a few things that are becoming more clear to me.

I have experienced deep transformation in my life by doing Work. Even if I didn't enjoy it - and often I didn't. And I am deeply committed to growth and transformation - it's just part of my make-up. I'm so committed that less-than-ideal circumstances became opportunities to find the transformation within. This is a good life skill to have, and I am grateful to be aware of it and gifted at integrating it into my perspective.

But along the way I got confused and began equating Work with Transformation. Productivity and Do-More-itis became a patterned way of living in which I subconsciously thought that was how I should practice my devotion to the growth and realization of my Higher Self. Service became a place of Work Harder, Give All - even at the cost of my own health, suffering and burnout. And let's be honest, there is a lot of pressure toward this in our culture....

Add to this a tendency to feel unworthy, not good enough, or as though one has to work hard to earn love or anything good in life - tendencies I have known intimately in myself - and Work becomes the very place, and sadly sometimes - the only place, in which we unknowingly look for our connection to {God}.

In this trap, Work can look like our job, our chores, our obligations - and even, when it's really tricky, it can disguise itself as our meditation practice, our self-induced diet stipulations, planning a celebration, going on vacation, etc etc..

If this sounds at all like you, dearheart, just know that you are not alone.

Please know that {god} IS the love you seek, no matter what you do. This love is not taken or given. There is no lack or limit to it. No matter your choices or circumstances or story. It just IS - and it is yours to know in the moments of transformation... the playful ones AND the challenging ones. So be gentler with yourself; soften your perspective a little. It doesn't matter so much what you do, but HOW you do it - how you notice the Love within it.

For me, I had forgotten that Play is a place of deep transformation, too. And, perhaps, the most pure place for our expansion - just watch any toddler becoming aware of the world around them. I had forgotten only because it had become so unfamiliar in the routine of my life and the choices I had made. I had forgotten because I had also forgotten my own worth and value, that I don't have to prove myself worthy of the air I breathe by working myself in ways not natural to my innate gifts and callings.

That is why intuitive art-making pulled me right in at that ripe, dark-night time in my life... it makes my spirit drool because I am thirsty for Play. And it is a practice of transformation  and truth-telling that dips in and out of how we show up to play and our unique soulwork. It has shown me that it doesn't have to be so hard.

I still resist Play like a knee jerk reaction much of the time. In many areas of my life. Even at the easel I will try to shove the practice into a task-oriented and systematic approach that ends up feeling more like Work. Ugh. This resistance is even more of an indicator that Play is exactly the medicine that will steer me deeper into my connection with the Sacred... even if it tries to make me feel all good in the process - in fact, especially then.

Luckily, I'm on to it more, that sneaky resistance... I see the worker-me coming in and killing the joy for an instant, trying to take over... and I smile and say thanks for that, now buzz off. Then I shake things up a bit - dance a little, move the painting around, grab a new color and slap it on the page, get my fingers in it - all to invite my creative play juices to keep the flow alive. I try to not be so serious about it all in the process of doing it.

Because soulwork gets done in the Work and the Play. Even if you have to work at Play for awhile to remember what it feels like and what it has to offer. And I know enough from this process now to have felt the truth that leaning into these resistances and resetting our patterns moves us deeper into expansion and growth... so, even in play, I get to know my beloved transformation, too.

As we expand our own capacity for Joy and spontaneity, we become more flexible to allowing our True Work in the world to come through us. The work that is not suffering or mind-numbing drudgery or worry-bound energy-exhausting effort, but of generous heart, connection and spirit - the Work that is unique to each of us.

We know it when we're in it - and we know our connection to Source in it - because it feels a little A LOT more like Play.