Saturday, May 16, 2015

Gypsy Lessons

Although my nomadic gypsy* days were numbered, neither the rose bearing goddess, Azna nor the post office delivered when I arrived in California the day after my Mount Shasta adventure.

Apparently Azna did not think I was ready for my home yet and the post office decided that seven addresses in a year (and these are just the ones I reported) was unacceptable.

My cautious German landlord-to-be was about as happy as the post office regarding my many address changes but I convinced him to give me a chance despite his reservations. Wisely, I did not explain that he really did not have a choice since I knew the minute I saw my apartment it was the place I had been promised by the obscure goddess I discovered in the Nebraska motel room. 

I meekly accepted his modification of the rental agreement to a month-to-month until he decided whether or not I was the total flake I appeared to be on paper. (Note to Gert - you're stuck with me now!)

On 10/1/10, just slightly over year after the day my life changed forever, I moved literally and metaphorically to the intersection of Park and School. I love the background noise of thwock.thwock.thwock.thwock from the next door tennis court, reminding me of the joy of play. And I love pretty much everything else about my sweet little home.

Although I certainly put it my share of productive hours, and they could be labeled as "work" (I prefer the word "livelihood"), my life is now dedicated to a fusion of play, learning and joyful service.

It took me a long time, but I finally learned that grimly driving myself to work
harderfasterbetter to do more, more, MORE,
was totally counterproductive. All this did was make me horribly depressed and anxious.

Productivity is nearly impossible when it takes tremendous effort just to crawl out of bed or when the amygdala (our lizard brain) on hyper alert, activates the fight or flight hormones and effectively shuts down the prefrontal cortex (home of decision making, the ability to focus thoughts, pay attention, take practical actions and achieve goals).

Trust me, if whipping and kicking myself was an effective strategy, I would be a blinding star of success shining in the sky for all across the planet to see. The successes I have achieved are nothing short of miraculous given the shackles I wore.

So at Park and School, I have been discovering how to relax and play. Although I have been learning  to trust my intuition, I've been sheepish and apologetic about sharing my life choices over the past few years, fearing disapproval from those who counsel a more "sensible", conventional approach.

But now I urge any readers who might scoff at frivolity to give it a try!

In the book,  Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown explains and validates what I had already discovered. He and countless other scientists, luminaries and even high profile corporate executives now extoll the virtues of play, rest, sleep and creativity.

Part of what I have been studying in my beloved little schoolroom sanctuary is the theory behind the necessity of these previously shunned activities for adults.

This is not a rationalization to sit on the couch, remote in hand eating Cheetos and swilling beer all day, or even to do nothing but dance and frolic in the wild. We certainly need to be responsible and take practical actions, as well as generate a livelihood, but there is a time and a place when the most practical action is to rest or play.

When we are in the middle of life transitions, forcing effortful work and planning can be far less effective than play or total inactivity. The spaces between our old and new lives usually just don't respond well to logic or practical management.

If you can summon your inner inspiration to create a playful and/or reverent way of honoring your next big transition, this will serve you much better than any no nonsense, bootstraps bootcamp, fix-it-fast, six steps to security and safety, self-help program.

If you feel uninspired (lizard brains activated by fear of change tend to choke the life out of inspiration in favor of preparing you to fight or flee!) and would like to learn how to celebrate a transition, consider booking an appointment with Sparks & Leaps. Due to all of my recent gypsy travels and other activities that have kept my personal calendar overflowing this spring, I have appointments at the introductory rate still available.

The process of Sparks & Leaps, draws from the combination of my 40 + years under the tutelage of my many esteemed, short gurus (aka the children I have cared for) and my years of study (including from many seriously credentialed, grown-up teachers) and play at Park and School.

So I am well qualified to offer an infusion of playful energy and joyful creativity. In fact, if there was a PHD of play, I would definitely have "Dr." attached to my name!

*Despite being happily settled at Park and School, I clearly still have some gypsy blood in me. In the article Gypsy in Their Souls, this quote (discovered while researching for a new client in between homes) leaped out: 

"The Gypsy seems to live on the edges of civilization, beyond its normal rules. In this romanticized view, the gypsy dancer appears to be free from societal constraints. The Gypsy as the Wild Woman archetype has magical powers, powers which makes her dangerous."

It may seem counterintuitive to advocate magic and play in the wild terrain of transitional times,
but that is precisely what we most need. If your normal rules are not working for you, I invite you to experiment with adding in a little bit of play. Discover the power of freedom. Live dangerously!


  1. Michelle, this is just what I need to hear at this point in my life. Thank you.

    Mary W.

  2. I am so glad, Mary! I look forward to hearing how you add more play to your life. Let's catch up soon.💃🏻🌹❤️

  3. Looks like my cool icons of the dancing woman in the red dress and rose did not come through, but at least the love did!

  4. You have wonderful ideas. I am playing much more now that I have a four year old in my life. I can't wait to catch up with you in person. Nancy

  5. Looking forward to meeting Scarlet and seeing you! So glad you are playing!!!

  6. This is a great reminder to me, Michelle. As you know, I 'm in the middle of many changes right now. I tend to be a "hunker down and work" type, but the energy of play DOES improve things, especially my spriits and resiliance. thanks! ST

  7. You are nothing if not resilient my Gypsy friend! You certainly have your work cut out for you every day right now, but I trust your natural love of play (and your wonderful sense of humor) will continue to help with your spirit.


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