Not your father's consulting firm.

When you think about what’s really happening when you REALLY start playing, not just pretending to play or pass time until you get to go to sleep, or appease the child, but playing in a way that you’re greedy for, playing hard, playing into the deep kind of play.  When you play like that, imagine little Luke Skywalker, not-yet Jedi, going into the Dark Side Cave where the only way to succeed was to come to terms with his elemental self.

Or Atreyu, in The Neverending Story, who had to pass between the Phoenixes with the laser eyeballs that would burn him to death if he were anything but the purest form of himself in the Never Ending Story.

Play is your own personal Laser Eyeballs Phoenix, because it focuses, distracts, and demands the full attention of the player, and prevents people from easily going back to their everyday concerns, so that while they’re playing and focused on the play, they’re clearer than normal, and become more elemental. 

The more they play this way, the more they develop a joyful stamina at being clear, being inspired, and being very happy.  The more that familiarity extends, the braver they get about identifying with that state of being, that clear, funded and very powerful state of being.

Once we begin to deeply know ourselves in this state, and through the lens of play, we say different things because we’re looking at different things, and we’re seeing them through a clear lens. What you see from a calm and happy state of being is very different from what you might say in a confused or despairing state.

10896412_10153515599329202_3886733302696513343_o

When you start to really play with different aspects of life more, you’ll discover that you’re more clear minded, and that happiness just comes easier, so it doesn’t actually take so much courage to express your true feelings.

In fact, deep, shared play almost demands that you say what is true for you, because lies don’t work, aren’t as fun and take up valuable brainspace to keep up with.  The play space falls apart. Lies, or half-truths disintegrate the  structure of the play.

By requiring so much honesty, both with yourself and with others, play can be used as a tool to keep it real. Time and time again, play will serve you by falling apart when you try to leave what’s really true for you behind.

Play gives you the courage to live a life true to yourself, not the life others expect.

I love courage! It’s the sudden blazing spark within a seemingly dead lump of coal, catalyzing decision and movement. I keep matches in the freezer for a similar reason: to feel the fullest range of possible experience; from frozen to fire in a searing instant.

Acts of courage kind of highlight this hot n’ cold range because when you are in a space to be courageous, it means you feel there is some leapin’ to be done.  We’re not courageous about putting oatmeal in the bowl.

But don’t have to cold call courage. Even considering the idea of being a little courageous is a way of bouncing up, of  beginning to play with whatever ain’t movin’.

Have you ever tried to play in a relationship where the person kept all these old stories of you and you had to work so hard to explain who you’ve become? Remember how unfun that is? We get into that kind of relationship with ourselves when we stop the courageous act that is playing with our own lives. And sometimes it takes a bit of courage to renew this relationship.

1231451_10152680992239202_223240004_n

Play helps you get courage. It not only relaxes and focuses, but also calls in clarity and willingness to deeply engage, just like meditation, deep acts of artistic creation, yoga, or extreme sports.

In the play, we discover how it focuses our attention on the good feelings associated with whatever we are playing in.  Potters are deeply engaged with the clay’s journey, dancers, on the movement, music, and the poetry between, writers, on the symphony of words and the inspired spark conducting the parade into meaning, mathematicians, on the connections and lay lines between patterns, yogis, on the presence between an atom of breath and a molecule of pure life force as found in the body temple, and so on.

Operating in this deep state of engagement affords the player the benefit of being unsplit and all here.  The deeper and more fully you give yourself over to the play, the less bandwidth you have to maintain falseness.

In that pared-down space, you’re all clear, and able to flow freely with the Great Creative Life Force, which offers you vantage and cleans your filter.  And with your lens clean, it’s very easy to be courageous about playing in life the way you most want to.  It’s those states of profound clarity where all acts of “courage” originate.

A good game or a deep immersion into a creative project plunges you into the pared-down heart of what it means to be a You. The play experience is a cozy raft, suspending you in a pool composed entirely of those good feelings that you spend your whole life wanting more of: engagement, discovery, connection, inspiration, delight, freedom, pure joy … and the entire span of time that you spend in a playful mood, you get to lounge around in those bucket listy feelings. You could say that choosing to play with something is opening a magic portal into your bucket list.

The reason you put all that stuff onto that list is so you could feel the kind of feelings you feel when you’re truly playing.  It’s a short cut.

The more fully we give ourselves over to a play experience, the more we’re able to experience that timeless absolute beingness, and the more your courage to be yourself steadies out. These play pockets let you experience yourself clear and new, which helps you keep up to date with your most elemental and aligned self.

But the secret of having the courage it takes to be true to yourself, is in knowing where your joy lives, because what you are courageous towards shapes your life.

The knowledge of your own joy is so valuable that if this were a heist movie and the team of sexy and slightly ne’er-do-well thieves were scheming to steal the most valuable thing in your vault, they’d be coming after your joy, and your ability to value and grow it true. They’d steal your joy system and sell it for a gadzillion dollars to some lonely French prince who never figured it out and is willing to pay any price for a functioning joy system, one where joy is valued, fed its proper food and is thriving and blooming the flowers and fruits that are its nature.

301788_10151592990329202_787399518_n

Real joy, the joy it takes courage to grow and play out of, locates you inside the fountain that flows from within you, and is radically personal to the player. What seems fun and joyful to you is a unique hailing, calling you ever deeper into a life experience that will be personally thrilling to you, and locate you more exquisitely on your path.

So you see, joy is the most essentialist, most crucial ingredient in the soup called Successful You, and I don’t mean wearing-pinstripes-on-Wall-Street kind of successful, but live a life that blooms you and kisses you back kind of joy. In that life,   you consistently access courageous in a way that leaves you feeling actively proud excited for tomorrow.

That’s why the lonely French prince wants it.

FullSizeRender (39)

FullSizeRender (39)My friend Camerado is so comprehensively and astoundingly good at giving gifts that it actually freaks me out a little.  The depths of his joy in the giving, the resonance and raw poetry of each gift, how he matches it to the tender of their soul’s perfect laughing. I’m serious. It’s a little unsettling.  In the way a scenic vista can unhinge you, when you come face to face with some absolute and unrelenting beauty, and you feel your little ol’ heart bursting open, biggering, heaving over into the original lightning.

He gives gifts that way.  That’s why he’s named Camerado.

But I don’t.

I realized this the other day when I tried to go Christmas shopping and felt like a muggle ramming my head against Platform 9 and 3/4.  Ouch.  I found no real threads to work with: sewing kit empty. You know the threads I’m talking about, when you can feel a buzz on something, and have at least a smidgen of inspiration to go on, like when you’re a Basset Hound with at least one whiff on the wind.  Some kind of real inspiration to lean into, some inkling of a truer direction.

Yeah, I had none of that.  For even those people I love ferociously and know very very well.  No wind whiffs.

So I started to talk. With gifts. With giving. With receiving.  With playing with it all.  Come on into the conversation:

 

It’s a vibe thang, yo

I used to be really great at receiving.  I remember sitting outside the door to the living room on Christmas morning, quaking with pure anticipation to receive all that was coming my way. No tangle, just, fuck yeah, I deserve scooters and bikes and whatever else Santa has up his sleeve.  If there was a whale under that tree, I’d deserve the whale.  There was no sense of needing to repay, or keep a balance sheet.  I just opened the hinges and in poured all sorts of neato things and I delighted in the receipt of and joy they gave me.

When I became a moneyed adult all that stopped.  Each gift came with a mental loop, What does this mean?  What do I now owe?  Are the scales still in balance?  You know what scales I’m talking about.  I put whales on the scales and it sent joy flying off into the I Can’t Find It Lands.

I’d picked up on a familiar paradigm of: I give to you, now you give to me, even tho it doesn’t make a lick of sense because what enters our life comes in response to the vibration we’re emitting.  Not because of some obligatory contract with other humans.

So, as an initial step of deepening in my own conversation with gifts, I decided to clean up my own ability to have fun let things flow into my life in fun ways, to be way way way okay with getting gifts.  In other words, I decided to believe in Santa again.

Law of Attraction can get a little diffuse and sexy, so why not energize the notion a bit to have more fun with it?  We live in a universe where that which is like unto itself is drawn.  So, we’re gonna get what we emit, vibrationally. But how much more fun is it to imagine Santa bringing it to you?  And elves?  I vote yes on a jolly, benevolent and all powerful force of good in the universe that just wants to give me super cool shit.

It’s a short cut, I think, through a lot of confused thinking, to just go join those clear hearted children, huddled outside the living room, with dawn rising. See them there? Laughing and joking with each other, wrapped in robes and softee blankies, so happy to be alive, and occasionally wrestling the impatient one to the ground who wants to wake the parents because they’re so dashingly and purely excited about all the beautiful things surely coming their way.

 

Few gifts fit in boxes, really great ones evince the notion of a box

 

The other night a strange call came into my number.  Stranger still, I answered it.  On the other end was a woman I’d known briefly but deeply and whom I’d tried to help but had felt like I’d failed miserably and hadn’t heard from since.  She’d called to tell me that I’d saved her life and her child’s life.  

That all that “failing” help was actually seeds that had caught on the frozen tundra of her and had seeped down into the earth of her as she began to thaw. The seeds pushed good strong roots of joy and playful habits into her life and she was calling me from her beautiful new garden.  I listened to hear describing the flowers of her now. And got chillbumps. She couldn’t stop thanking me.  The gift I gave would never know a box. The gift of her inviting me into her precious garden nourished my heart like a thousand fairy honeys.

Most gifts worth their salt are boxless.

 

Gifts go in the direction of the question beneath them

 

Camerado had some really pretty questions purring at the heart of his gift giving.  He knows that gift giving is part of a larger conversation of love.  It’s another way to feel the cool sands of love in your hands, or to make sand castles together.  Gifts offer a way to savor, honor, delight in and celebrate others.  You can also enjoy the fun of contributing to another’s thriving.  

Questions Camerado doesn’t ask (questions that make you small):

  • how can i get this over with?
  • what is good enough that I pass under the wire unnoticed?

Questions in Camerado’s heart (questions that grow big roots):

  • what is Light in this person and how can I support or grow that Light?
  • What would make their inner smile jump out their face adn rainbow out into the world?
  • What boxless gifts are in me that want to come home in the arms of this precious bean?

What are the questions inside your gifts, darlings?

“o maybe this is silly,

To give you on this night;
But giving away a part of me,
Just makes me feel so right.
*****
So this year I will give to you,
The words that fill my soul;
I hope that they will bless you,
And may your life be whole.” Gary R. Ferris

Beautiful sprout, tender darling…

I wish you every sweetness this Christmas.

I hope you find yourself so present that every wind nourishes and each laugh shivers you anew.  May every morsel in your mouth echo to pleasures in the distant past and exquisite pleasures to come.  May you find yourself in love with your own existence in a brand new way.

May joy reign supreme.

All my love,

Cap’n NattFullSizeRender (30)

522446_10151503719174202_2037203831_n

One of the toughest places in my own life to learn how to TRULY play with, is relationships: there’s too many moving pieces. I can play with a basketball for ages and it’ll never interrupt me and tell me it’s all my fault.

It’s so so so so so so easy to get looped into judgement and anger and self righteous blamey thinking loops that absolutely lock you out of any kind of real play together.  Luckily, life keeps bringing exactly what I need.  Here’s a recent tale of playing my way through that cluster of confusion, and staying in the heart of the play as it moved.

 

“Fatman don’t want you to see her.” His sister tells me, frankly.  Even though Fatman continues to stand within precise french fry distance to me, even though he’s covering his eyes with interlaced backwards fingers so his cold little knuckles are pressed to his eyes while he chews the single warm fry I just gave him.

 

Fatman isn’t yet two. His sister isn’t yet caring about pronouns, or, perhaps, gender, I can’t tell which. She calls my son her sister several times in the course of the play.  I watch the baby’s jaw for signs of slowing, because we’ve been at this for several minutes and I know that when the last swallow happens, he’s going to burst open his little protective finger curtain and find me with those bright dark eyes.  I try to play a little peek a boo, but he just grunts.

 

I prepare his next ketchup-dipped fry and when I hand it to him, the temperature of his skin freaks me out. Both he and his sister are wearing thin T-shirts and no shoes.  It’s cold enough that I have to work to not shiver in my sweatshirt and jacket.

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I watch the mother, playing basketball on the court, in a very warm looking hoodie. WTF?  Wary of the Prime Directive I decide to give my son’s jacket to which ever of them will let me slip it over their damn hat.  Fatman covers his eyes and runs blindly away so I give it to Katyadee.  My son never liked the damn thing anyway. But when I slip it over her cocoa skin, and it settles perfectly onto her body, she stops shivering and smiles up at me.

 

I catch my breath a little.  I get the whole “helper’s high” thing. Damn it feels good to help another human, even in a small way.  Fatman blindly meanders back towards the smell of fries and bumps into my knees.  He still doesn’t remove his hands because in Fatman’s world, if he can’t see me, I can’t see him.

 

Last night Graham told me, with a voice, jaunty with rebellion, that he isn’t ready to stop being angry at his mother.  I’ve just met this man, and realize that he’s offering some piece of himself up, not as an immovable thing, like, hey, there’s some Sphynx’s here, they’re a pretty cool part of my interior landscape and occasional shoot things with their laser eyeballs, but more as an invitation to peer together at what has long seemed to him to be a big ol’ fucking locked door.

 

A little later, his voice changes when he tells me that when he tries to discover why he’s angry, his mind tells him it’s because “she didn’t see me.”  I can feel this beautiful adult man’s struggle to give any kind of permission to even near this door.

 

Yet here we are, several sheets in and still not eating oysters so I ask him, “Mum didn’t see me. Is it true?”  I know that this style of inquiry can be a tad heavy, especially when you’re kind of drunk and on a kind of date, but when the fuck isn’t it time for deeper truthing?  I can’t totally tell what he thinks of this bold move because he bursts out laughing and seems as surprised by his response as I am.  He gasps out,

 

“No.  No, it isn’t true.”  

 

Fatman calls me back to him by grabbing both my hands with his freezing little brown hands. Apparently I’m horribly out of time in our french fry dance.  He shivers as he waits.  The mother should take better care of her children. The thought bursts onto the scene, hot and frothy with self righteous anger.  

 

Is it true?

 

I’m alone in a late fall woods, there are barely any leaves on the trees. I’m probably ten and I’m as far away from anyone who might know my name or try to care for me as I can manage.  I’ve covered my face and bare arms and legs with charcoal lines.  I didn’t know about war paint or ritual then, not with my mind, but I think a deeper part of me recognized the urge to create a bridge into a deeper way of being in the world.  With each line I drew, I was freeing myself from the tangled homelife behind me.  I should have been shivering, but wasn’t, not even slightly.

 

I was on a quest.  I’d been writing stories about fairies for years and was now following their trail.  I revel in how fully open I can allow my senses to be here.  There is no horrible musics of anger here, just things coming and going, waking and dying, and living in the simple good way of forest creatures.  I love how careless I can be here, how I can indulge my enormous curiosity and hunger for discovery.

 

The adult me now knows how pivotal those “parenting gaps” were to the poet, warrior, teacher, dancer, lover woman I’ve become. I remember lying beneath a vine full with dark red winter berries, on a carpet of yellow fallen leaves and waiting for the first berry to fall. I waited all day and one still didn’t fall. That’s poet training.  I got wildly and absolutely lost and had to get clear enough on the way in in inside to find my way out. I fell through ice and had to warm myself enough using breath to walk out.  

 

That wild, unsafe place was the very training ground I needed to become the me I so delight in being.

 

Should my parents have kept better tabs on me?  I walk through a life of people who are terrified of their own desires and have virtually no relationship with their own wonderment. Fuck no they shouldn’t have. Sweet goodness, what perfect for me parents. Thank you mama and papa.  

 

Now Fatman has both his hands in my warmer hands.  What a facey. He has most of an entire french fry stuck in the snot mask on the lower half of his beautiful face. I tried to wipe it but he’s having none of that.  For a moment he meets my gaze, full on.  And there’s this narrow window where Old Soul in a New Baby finds the same in me. I feel the tides of self righteous assurance begin to shift in me.

 

Fatman shouldn’t be cold right now. Is that true?  His fiercely alive gaze dares me to say it’s true.

 

He slips one hand off mine and reaches towards the fries, not to take one, oh no, that would break our dance, but to indicate the time for gazing is done and the time for the next french fry is indeed upon us.  I test this and try to hand him the whole beach fry basket but he shakes his head strongly, and grunts, “nuh nuh nuh.”  His sister interprets,

 

“Fatman don’t want that.”  She points.  “He only want the next fry.”

 

She looks so warm and pretty in that teal warmie that I can hardly stand it. It’s all suddenly just a tad too fucking much.  I feel that slidey, falling off the cliff deep clarity haze coming on.

 

I reach into select the next fry.

 

The things, that I realize have been little anxious burrs in me, begin to float in.

 

I don’t have to know how to handle all the clients coming in, just the next one.

 

I dip the fry in ketchup. Not too much ketchup.

 

I don’t have to know Everything about All that I want in a Lover, it’s okay to just know what I want right now.  

 

I hand the fry to Fatman who doesn’t reach out with his hand this time, but lets me put it into his mouth. O….

 

It’s okay to love the wanting. To be simple and close and appreciating the beauty of pure wanting, even, and oh, sweet Jesus, ESPECIALLY all the pretty pretty winds inside an unfulfilled desire.

 

I can palpably feel the current of life force whirring within each of these wantings …

 

to be warm …

 

to have all the babies warm and with shoes …

 

to have men love and forgive their mamas so that they may more fully love and forgive themselves …

 

to be good and somehow goodly available to love and partnership

 

to learn how to come home after a life of gypsy dancing through inner and outer geographies

 

And it warms me to love the wanting again, to renew my love for the precious and necessary shivering of more life breaking through the forever waking soil of my now.

 

DSCN0007

DSCN0007

Have you ever had one of your big dreams come true? I’m talking about the really big giant dreams that you’ve had for a really, really long time. That’s what is happening for me right now. As I’m writing this, a ridiculously adorable little lizard is climbing up my wall. And, yes, I did dream a little bigger than that. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to live on the ocean. And since the first time I came to Belize in 1996, I wanted to specifically live on the ocean in Belize. And here I am, hence the lizard.

One of the interesting things about manifesting something so tremendous is that it is a little shocking when life continues to be, well, life. There’s a little bit of pressure to feel like I’m supposed to be floating on the clouds all the time. Like I should never have a need for my conscious play tools ever again.

It’s simply not the case. I still get periodically (ok, several times a day) irritated with my toddlers, and even though I love the heat, I occasionally feel uncomfortably warm (I’m typing this naked). I still need to do my morning routine of gratitude and meditation and motion. I still periodically need focus wheels and grids. I still have to stay aware and mind my vibration and continue to care how I feel. It’s just a WHOLE LOT EASIER NOW!

I think often of the Abraham saying that the only reason you want something is that you believe the having of it will make you feel good. And I do. It’s easier here in this place that matches so many of my preferences to lift myself back up and stay there for longer.
Here’s where manifesting a really big dream like this is super helpful. First it is such an incredible touchstone that I can manifest anything. I’ve been lining up to get here for 19 years. I basically feel like a rock star for manifesting this. AND my favorite is that I have realized that one of the reasons I wanted to be here is that it has so many of my favorite play places, and that’s THE EASIEST AND BESTEST way to lift back up, right? Most of the people here are really joyful. There’s tons of music and dancing. There are loads of kids here, and pretty much everybody loves kids. People have a deep connection to their culture, heritage, art and traditions. There’s ocean! And reef! And loads of animals and amazing natural spaces. And oh my Lord, the food!
20150522_232656
And so I realized that is the deeper meaning of that Abraham saying for me. Our dreams, the things we are manifesting in our lives, are almost always connected to our favorite play spaces.
There’s no doubt you can be happy anywhere. I proved that a couple summers ago (perhaps we can talk about that in another post). Happiness is never about a place, but surrounding myself with some of my favorite ways to play has been such a blessing and feels like an incredible step forward for me.