Welcome to PERMISSION TO PLAY! For late Spring and Summer of 2013, Chel Micheline will be hosting a creative challenge (a sort of “summer camp” for your inner child here) at Bliss Habits every Tuesday. And she’d love for you to join her.
All you have to do is this:
Once a week, every week, make the time to HAVE SOME CREATIVE FUN– something that allows you to let go, drop the inner critic for a while, and just have fun.
Every Tuesday, we’ll do a little “show-and-tell” about our creative experiments- you are welcome to leave a comment or link up to your own blog post about your adventure. (If you want to know more about PERMISSION TO PLAY, click here.) And since today is Tuesday … here we go!
If you know me outside of Bliss Habits, you may know that about two weeks ago, my beloved kitty, Delilah, passed away unexpectedly. I’m only sharing this because I wanted you to know that when this “Permission to Play” challenge *officially* started on Tuesday, I was in a very bad emotional place.
I’ll be honest – the last thing I really wanted to do was “play” or try to experience joy in any way, shape, or form. I couldn’t have cared less.
However, as I pondered what the heck I was going to do about the challenge (make something up, force myself to do something creative, postpone, cancel it altogether…), I realized that this whole thing couldn’t have come at a better time.
First of all, I need to get out of my head a little and just find some things to cheer myself up. It’s been pretty grim and I was basically just wandering around, restless and sad. Anything would be better than that.
Second of all- and most importantly- the one thing I learned from this whole experience of losing my best friend is that there’s a huge difference between what I *believed* brought me joy and what really does bring me joy. Everything got turned upside down. In fact, I kinda feel like I am starting from scratch- trying to figure out what joy means, and what I can do to bring some of it into my life. It’s all new territory.
Why am I sharing all this? I know that not everyone taps into pure joy at a moment’s notice. So maybe my struggle with this might be enlightening for someone in a similar state. Maybe at some point in our lives we all need to strip away all the stuff that we pad our lives with (expectations, obligations, impositions) and just figure out what the heck would bring some true happiness.
So here I am. I really imagined I would just jump into this “Permission to Play” challenge with something creative and artsy- a big collage! A painting of a rainbow! A mobile of hand-drawn birds!
The truth is, art is the LAST thing I have wanted to do in the last two weeks. I’ve barely done any art at all. I stopped art journaling completely (can’t even imagine documenting life at this moment), I haven’t taken any snapshots, I haven’t painted or sketched or made jewelry.
That speaks volumes to me. I don’t think that it’s because I’ve lost interest in art, I think it’s just that it takes an enormous amount of emotion and energy, especially getting started on any given project, and I have none of either at the moment.
So if art was always the activity that was my source of joy up until this point, and it just felt like total crap, what the heck do I do?
Sitting and looking into space was getting me nowhere, so I decided to tap into my inner child and see what was up with her. I thought about it for a while, and the magic answer was found in a simple question -something I often hear little kids ask one another. That question was:
“What do you *feel* like doing?
What do you *really* feel like doing?”
I decided to just ask myself that question and follow through every single day. As I asked the question, I imagined myself interacting with myself as a five year old, asking her “what do you feel like doing?”, and then following through on whatever came up. If it wasn’t a possibility (for example: no sandbox in the backyard), I would find something similar (gardening).
It was sort of surprising what came up, but it’s also been a good learning experience. Here’s what my “inner child” felt like doing this week:
– Not making her bed every day.
This one was easy. I usually make my bed as soon as I get up, but a few times this last week I just left it alone. It was kind of nice, actually. Not for everyday, but it’s nice to know it’s not going to freak me out if it’s not done. I also “abandoned” other chores and stuff that I usually have rigid routines for. It’s a little scattered, but I’m learning that I can have flexibility in my days.
– Playing games.
Three words: Candy. Crush. Saga. Perfect mindless fun, which is what is needed at times when all I felt like doing was crawling into said unmade bed and shutting out the world. When I felt myself losing my grip, I could pick up my phone and play for about fifteen minutes, and then I was ready to get back to life.
– Playing in the dirt.
I gardened. A lot. Part of it was staying out of the house, part of it was because it was physically exhausting, part of it because being in the sunshine really cheers me up, and part of it was because it just felt good to dig my hands into the soil and impose order on some little corner of the universe.
– Playing with kittens.
Tom, Gracie, and I spent *a lot* of time at the cat shelter we volunteer at this past week. We actually started going the day after Delilah passed- we desperately needed to get out of the house, and I had an overflow of emotion, so we went to the cat shelter and it was so healing. I usually gravitate to the adult cats- I like to just sit with them and pet them and talk to them- but Gracie loves kittens so we took the time to meet all the kittens waiting for forever homes and get to know them.
– Going to a loud, energetic movie and eating M&Ms in the dark.
On Friday, Tom and I were both feeling pretty antsy, so we just went to the movies and saw “Oblivion”. I ate M&M’s and drank soda in the dark and just let myself become immersed. It felt completely indulgent and fun. It also made me excited for all the summer movies- something to look forward to.
– Looking at picture books.
I haven’t read *anything* since Delilah passed. I have no patience. But I have started looking through my art books a lot, both my books from my Art History days and also all my “how to” books. It’s just nice to flip through them for a while, see what piques my interest and what I missed the last time I looked through them.
– Getting rid of boring stuff.
I’m kind of OCD so organizing things always makes me feel better, and this whole experience has completely freed me of any emotional attachments to useless material things, so I’m kinda having fun going around and tossing/donating anything that I feel obligated to but that brings me no joy.
– Going to school.
I realized I really want to go back to school, in some form. I started looking into MFA programs for art, and art therapy degrees, and even just regular online art and psychology classes. I don’t know what it all means, but right now it’s fun to check out various programs and see if and how they might work, and what my future might look like if I wind up enrolling in one of those programs.
– Going shopping for fun stuff.
Despite the fact that I’m not in the mood to make anything, I felt like going to Michael’s and seeing if anything would inspire me. I wound up buying some journaling cards (maybe a good sign that I plan to start up my art journal again?) and some neon paints. I don’t feel like using either, but I like having them. I’m leaving the paint out on my desk because I like the colors. I never in a million years thought neon would come back, but it’s a good memory from my childhood.
– Watching a lot of movies at home.
We have been watching a bunch of movies as a family. Good movies are an excellent way to get out of your head.
Tom has karate a few times a week and usually I devote that time to art and/or writing assignments, but this week I was in no mood for any of that. After being aimless and a little emotional, I sat down on the couch with a cup of tea, my latest crochet project, and just watched a movie (“Won’t Back Down”). I kept thinking I *should* be using that time to do something “meaningful” but I realized a few minutes later that sitting down and watching a movie and working on crochet *was* something meaningful. I felt okay (meaning: not sad), and at that moment, that’s exactly what I needed. I didn’t need to be sitting in my studio forcing myself to do something that felt like pulling teeth.
In fact, it was such a good experience that I think I am going to institute “movie afternoon” every week during one of Tom’s karate days.
– Being quiet.
I honestly don’t feel like communicating too much, or blogging, or posting on Facebook, or any of that. So instead of hashing out all my emotions and experiences on my blog or in a journal, I’m just leaving myself be. It feels kinda good to do that. It’s made me rethink how I communicate online, how I connect with people, and what I share. I think there’s a middle ground I want to explore where I post what I want to share and not what I think people would *like* me to share.
I broke from routine (not making bed and not working at usual times), connected with living things (gardening and cat shelter), stopped worrying about what other people wanted/expected from me (blogging and communicating), stayed out of the art studio (!), *looked* at a lot of stuff (movies and books), and kept to myself.
I realized that joy is simple.It’s of the moment. It’s just figuring out what I feel like doing, and figuring out a way to do it. THAT’S IT. It’s NOT fussy or over-thought or judged (like my art has been getting, like my blogging has been getting, like my LIFE has been getting.) I know this doesn’t work for everyday life. But there’s got to be a way to get more of it in there.
Was it a joyful week? I can’t call it that. But it was a lot better than it could have been, given the situation.
I gotta be honest- I don’t know what the next few weeks (or even the next few months) holds for me. I don’t know if I’ll go back to my regular routines or if I’m just ready for some shift in life. The thing is, I feel like I am in a place where I can step out of the rigid routines and beliefs I held about the world and my place in it and see what else might be out there.
It’s never too late to join in. Simply have some creative fun and get ready to share it next Tuesday. You can leave a comment here or create a blog post over on your site and link it to Bliss Habits on Tuesdays. We’re even on Twitter: Kathy added a # to p2play to make #p2play for twitter! Share your creations there too! We are @BlissHabits (Kathy) and @GingerblueArt (Chel) if you’d like to copy us too!
Here’s a banner you can put on your blog:
the code for this badge (just copy/paste into your own blog):
<a href=”http://blisshabits.com/tag/permission-to-play/”><img alt=”playchallenge” src=”http://blisshabits.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/playchallenge.jpg” width=”200″ height=”142″ /></a>
Chel Micheline is a mixed-media artist, curator, writer, and avid gardener/reader/swimmer who lives in Southwest Florida with her husband and daughter. When Chel’s not making art or pondering the Bliss Habits, she’s blogging at gingerblue.com (come say hi!) or posting new things in the gingerblue etsy shop.
Please link up your projects here or in the comments below!