Yesterday I took part in Maryann’s Secret Play Date.
It’s a thing she does on her blog every Toozday and it is my favorite.
Part of Maryann’s genius is that she believes things like marketing and business planning and making stuff happen (all this falls under the category that I call biggification) cannot be divorced from creativity.
So she has secret play dates where you get to work on your business, but not in the way you normally would.
With art supplies! Like construction paper and glitter. Or on the floor. Challenging your pattern of creating. For one hour. Just to see what happens.
Here are my notes.
Defining the mission.
I was determined to finalize my 2011 teaching calendar. And really, the everything calendar.
The question: How are we going to make calendaring fun and playful?
Hot pink index cards spread out in a sequence! How else?
Maryann had decided to spend her playtime yesterday alternating between working on her project and doodling. Ten minutes work-play, ten minutes doodle-play.
I loved the idea of alternating, and wasn’t in a doodle frame of mind.
But it occurred to me that my creative play happens best on the physical level.
So I decided to alternate between ten minute periods of doing, and ten minute periods of doing something with my body. Thinky play followed by body play.
Thinky play. Round 1.
First ten minutes. Go!
The plan: decide on dates and times for a new course I’m teaching. And come up with a name/metaphor.
Wow. Ten minutes went by ridiculously fast, but it also got me the dates and two possible metaphors.
That was completely unexpected. Usually this stuff takes forever. Knowing I only had ten minutes did induce a state of laser focus, but maybe I just overestimate these things?
Maybe it takes longer because I have too many distractions? Anyway, yay!
Body play. Round 1.
The plan: use the living room as a jungle gym.
My body really liked this, especially my shoulders which were already tired after ten minutes on the computer.
Interesting. I normally only notice shoulder stuff after hours of work, but it turns out that after ten minutes, I’m already really wanting to stretch them out.
Also, the ten minutes seemed to last forever, which was really weird. I often do yoga for really long periods of time, so ten minutes should be nothing but it just felt like it was never going to end.
Thinky play. Round 2.
The plan: update the events page.
I hardly got anything done. But I learned something fascinating.
It turns out that the process of moving events from the upcoming list to the already-happened list takes way more time than I’d realized.
In fact, there is no reason that I should be doing that. Maybe the First Mate could do it once a month, or we could do it at Drunk Pirate Council.
Body play. Round 2.
The plan: tramp on the trampoline!
Again, breaks are crazy long, when you aren’t used to taking breaks.
I mean, I thought I did take breaks but it turns out I either go to the bathroom or have a glass of water or stretch for a minute.
Tramping is the kind of thing I will usually happily do for 45 minutes. This time I kept wondering why the bell wasn’t going off.
Body loved it, though. And I had some good ideas about scheduling. Bounce!
The last two minutes I stretched out my calves on the stairs and did a long, slow, lazy forward bend, to which my body said yes yes yes do that more often please.
Thinky play. Round 3.
The plan: back to the events page. Let’s put some up!
This round was magic.
I felt extremely energized (thanks to the break). And there was so much enthusiasm and excitement for the various Rallies and Gwish Days we’ll be doing this year.
Got way more done than expected. Ten minutes whooshed by in a daze.
Body play. Round 3.
The plan: a walking meditation.
This is one of my favorite mindfulness practices that I hardly ever actually do.
It was interesting how hard it was for me to commit to walking slowly. I wanted to pick things up and put things away.
Which made me think that another body round might well be a variation on Barbara’s ten things or even sprinting around the block.
When I got to the bookshelves, I felt a very strong urge to light a stick of incense and write spells with it on the walls.
It was fun and playful, and reminded me of another ritual I used to do and love but that got lost this year in all the traveling and the busy.
This round went by much more quickly for me, even though I was moving extremely slowly. Or maybe because I was moving extremely slowly. Time warp!
And then a break from taking breaks.
Lunch with the gentleman friend! With freshly baked homemade Hoppy House sourdough with caraway seeds!
Then I did another round, just to see what happened.
I found that I really wanted to use my break-time for other things, like sweeping. Or trying on costumes.
So maybe next time I might try alternating ten minutes PLAY with ten minutes BODY with ten minutes PLAY and then ten minutes DO WHATEVER YOU WANT.
And then I went and sat at a cafe and just worked. No secret-play-dating. Just work.
Not being on Secret Play Date sucks!
I could really feel the not fun, and the body tightness, and the point where I start to lose my brain.
Pretty soon my body called on its role as executive decision-maker and said Enough! Schluss!
Where I’m taking this.
You know, I’ve been on Maryann’s case to do something like this since maybe June.
Because I thought it would be good for her. And for her people. And because it’s a really terrific idea.
But I had no idea it would have such a profound effect on me.
I don’t like the idea of regular non-secret-play-date working anymore.
So we’re going to have to experiment.
Maybe not always doing the alternating-ten-minutes thing, of course. Next time I might do a collage. And then I might do something completely different.
But it will involve play. And it will involve regular stopping and resting and reviewing.
It will be like being on Rally (Rally!). Simple and beautiful and fun.
Play with me! Play with Maryann (you don’t have to wait until next Toozday). The worst thing that happens is we’ll learn what doesn’t work, and that’s useful too.