Tag Archives: play

Following My Fear

Simons Town Lighthouse

The grip of fear. It is something we all feel at times and it literally chokes the zest of life out of us and keeps us standing still in a thick bog of self doubt at times. Can you remember the last time you felt that way? Are you there right now? I certainly am.

It is the madness of my mind that one day I can be full of life and belief that anything is possible and then, the very next day, nothing is possible. Suddenly I am standing in a smelly, wretched bog of fear and my creativity has flown away into the distant sunshine. How does the mind play such tricks when nothing, absolutely nothing has changed to cause that fear to rise in the first place? That alone is a reminder of just how powerful a tool the mind is if we harness it correctly. It certainly is a master of chaos when left alone.

So, I am standing in the middle of my fear at the moment and, as the mud is seeping into my boots, I have been struggling to set myself free. I have been fighting against my fears, wriggling this way and that to get away from it in a fit of huffing and flailing arms and then giving up until I get my breath back. I have been feeling lost and unsure of which way to turn to rid myself of this state of mind.

But then it occurred to me this morning what the real problem is. Instead of allowing my fear to exist and following her to see why she is here I am fighting her. Since when did fighting get any of us anywhere other than into trouble?

I need to stop that right now. Instead of fighting my fear I am going to allow her to sit there quietly next to me and see why she is occurring in the first place. Fears are based on irrational lessons we have learnt at some point and, to our subconscious mind, those fears make sense. Perhaps by getting to know my fear instead of batting her away, I will set myself free. Perhaps simply by knowing that it is okay to feel fear, by allowing her to sit quietly at my desk as I write and watch as I show her an alternative life of joy and laughter, fear will in time settle down.

When fear loses its significance and power over me and becomes an acceptable, perhaps welcome, visitor I can transform her. I can mould her gently into something new that need not hold me back as I pursue my dreams in life.

 

Fear can become my friend, my way of knowing when I need to look deeper to heal old wounds.

Isn’t it sad that we allow our fears to hold us back instead of them being a tool of discovery and investigation? Each of us has fears, whether we choose to admit it or not, and we hold ourselves back from our true power and beauty in life by sitting in the shadow of fear. We all have dreams we didn’t pursue, talents and passions we thought were second rate and not good enough to be shared. How different would the world be if each of us allowed ourselves to shine and let fear fade away?
That is my work at the moment, allowing myself to reconnect to my peace and begin to shine again in my own small ways. I am starting with a healthy dose of play this weekend amongst nature, my favourite breakfast and a reminder that I am doing my best to transform. I am trying every day to follow my dreams fearlessly, I am trying to make a difference and it is okay that right now I feel a little lost as I stomp about in the bog.
Today I am going to sit in my mud pit of fear, eat my marmalade on toast and raise a big steaming mug of English tea to the sunshine. I am going to make it a comfortable place to be, hope the mud doesn’t ruin my clothes and see what the day brings.

Inspire Me

Endless Light and Love – Life is so ironic

Prose over Bros – Relax

Miss Centsible – Speak quietly to yourself

Totally Inspired Mind – Do It badly, do it slowly

Bourbon Tea – Hooray for play

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Come fear. Take my hand

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As she touched the keys of the piano lightly her fingers trembled. She was painfully aware of the people around her, felt the weight of their passing conversations press down upon her hunched shoulders as she took a deep breath. She let her hair fall around her face as her eyes darted across the keys wildly. She was unsure if she could remember the piece her heart wanted to play, unsure of the depth of touch needed for the keys to sound, unsure if she had the courage to just do it. She turned her head slowly to the left and peeked through her hair, as if waiting to be caught as an imposter and told to leave. She caught site of families and couples deep in conversation and felt fear rise in her throat and quicken her pulse.

 

Fear told its familiar story of not being good enough, of it being better to give up now than expose oneself and be judged on ability or lack of

 

Fear told her it was better for the music that was deep within her soul not to be heard, for it was no good and was not worthy of listening ears. She would be laughed at. She pressed middle C lightly as her hands shook. Perhaps she could just play quietly so no-one would hear but she could at least ease the ache inside her that longed to make music. She breathed again, looked to the right and saw two smiling faces; her friends cheering her on silently with warmth in their smiles and glasses lifted in congratulation at getting this far. Little did they know her terror. Fear tightened its grip around her throat; her fingers moved away from the keys as she began to convince herself it was better to just leave it, forget her dream of performing and leave it for someone else to play.

 

But then another voice spoke; that of courage and of not giving a damn anymore about being judged

 

Just play for crying out loud, just play and set your soul free. You know this is your dream and it doesn’t matter whether you get every note wrong. Yes, stepping outside of your comfort zone is frightening, fear has a strong hold at times but it doesn’t matter.

 

It is not yours to judge yourself and your ability. It is your job to just do it and explore the magic outside of your comfort and security. The adventure is yours for the taking. Just close your eyes and play

 

So she did just that. She pulled her feet forwards and pressed the pedals with a familiar tenderness. It felt like coming home. She poised her long fingers above the keys and breathed deeply. She breathed in courage, she breathed in fear but most of all she breathed in her dreams and passion and, as she exhaled, she began. It would be a lie to say she hit every note perfectly. A lie to say she was a concert pianist when clearly she wasn’t. But she played with passion; she laughed out loud at the bum notes and giggled as her friends moved closer with their glasses of wine. They listened with smiles and kind heckles to try and distract her further. If she could have stepped back and seen herself she would have witnessed one of her greatest dreams coming true.

 

She had embraced her fear, let it sit on the stool beside her and shown just what she was capable of when her mind set her free

 

She stopped. She played again and then confessed she also had a dream to sing. She had wanted to perform all her life but had never quite found the courage to be properly heard. Never quite found the courage to be so vulnerable as to let her voice be heard.

With strength, a quiet satisfaction and pride at having played in public, she later sang her friends a song. It sounds so simple, as if it took nothing but the act of opening her mouth and letting the tune out. But it took so much more than that for her. Yet again she had to master her fears of failure, of being judged and remind herself of the beauty of play. Of how desperately she wanted to be heard. She paced the room as she considered if she could in fact sing – did she sound terrible? Should she sing quietly? Or perhaps let go, sing from the depths of her heart and pour her soul into her voice?

 

It didn’t matter how she sounded for at least she was willing to try. And so the voice of courage spoke up once more

 

She took that deep breath, closed her eyes, let her shoulders fall and sang as if there were no tomorrow. She soared to the highest notes of a soprano voice and to the lowest tones in the depths of throat; with runs and pauses she held her tune and finally let her voice be heard. The exhilaration was next to none. The freedom of expression was exquisite and when she let her last note out and opened her eyes she found her friends silent. With tears in their eyes they told her they couldn’t believe she wasn’t doing something with such a voice. And with that one performance and those kind words an evening of song and acoustic guitar took shape.

 

And so began a journey whose next chapter is unknown but will surely happen because she let herself be heard

 

As I sang those songs and played the piano during that day last week I felt incredibly vulnerable. I was reminded of how strong fear can be and how easy it is to just walk away from new experiences, walk away from that vulnerability. It is easier than trying something you believe in. I very nearly didn’t perform and I am thankful I found a voice louder than fear that stopped me from giving up. The moment I stepped outside of my comfort zone, stopped judging myself and recognised nothing mattered other than giving it a try, I set myself free. And you can do the same for whatever it is you believe in.

 

Fear will always be with us in one form or another but it doesn’t need to stop us. The key is to learn to master our fear, let it sit beside you and just be.

 

Show fear the magic that can happen when you take its hand and lead it gently towards your dream. It isn’t easy but the rewards are worth every shaky moment when your hands tremble and your pulse races. The rewards of self-belief, of courage, of just being who you want to be are incredible. Even when you hit the bum notes and have to start again, just as I did. Even when you completely forget the line to the song and make it up as you go along, just as I did on more than one occasion that day.

 

S today I encourage you to do something that is outside of your comfort zone. Go and take a deep breath and open the door to one of your dreams and just try.

No matter what happens I promise you it will be magical simply because you had the courage to try

Hooray for Play

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To play. To pretend to be something, someone else, to live freely and laugh brightly at the sunshine and rain, to forget who you are and all of your adult confines and expectations for just a moment. To be whoever you want to be.

Definition of play

verb

  • 1 [no object] engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose:the children were playing by a pool her friends were playing with their dolls
  • [with object] engage in (a game or activity) for enjoyment:I want to play Snakes and Ladders
  • amuse oneself by engaging in imaginative pretence:the boys were playing at soldiers
  • (play at) engage in without proper seriousness or understanding

 

I have been thinking a lot about play the last few days, as I have been mostly stuck indoors whilst Cape Town has been drowned in rain and hail. I have missed the freedom of playing on the beach, sitting on a rock and singing songs to myself with a seal for company as he splashes amongst the kelp. I have missed my sandy playground where I indulge myself in the nature that surrounds me. It goes without saying that I have also missed seeing the sharks and being at sea each day. The ocean is another one of my playgrounds. I like to either be next to her depths or within them playing at being a mermaid swimming gracefully amongst the sharks.

As I returned home from work the other day I watched a seal hunting behind the waves at Fishhoek beach. He darted back and forth at great speed, turning impossibly quickly as he weaved his silky body this way and that, his prey just out of reach of his jaws. He didn’t catch his prey despite his best efforts but then he started to play. He raced behind the waves, leaping out of the ocean repeatedly and then raced into the waves to surf them to the beach. As the waves curled and broke he flew down their faces, sometimes leaping from the crest of the wave high into the air as the water propelled him forwards. I couldn’t stop laughing at his acrobatics and sheer enjoyment of play.

Like most of us, I can take life far too seriously at times when I get bogged down by my own expectations of who I should be and what I should be doing. I really need play to escape and remind myself how to exist, laugh and do something for the sheer fun of it. And by playing I release the creativity in me again, release my inner happy. It brings back my passion to create and inspire. Who knew play could be so useful? I don’t think it had occurred to me that it is anything other than fun and giggles until quite recently.

 

We all need to play more, make play a daily part of our lives.

 

In fact I think we all need to make our lives as much about play as is humanly possible. Turn the idea of ‘work’ and ‘duty’ on its head and make them playful, full of curiosity and about having fun. I have a presentation to give to a group of students in the coming weeks and instead of being nervous I am going to make it an opportunity for me to play. An opportunity for me to be creative, to engage the students and make them laugh and have fun. By doing that and approaching it with a curious and playful mind not only will I enjoy it more and be less judgmental of my performance but the students will get the best of me. They will learn more because they will be having fun. So this week I am going to focus on being these things in everything I do:

 

Be Curious

Be Playful

Be Open Minded

Be full of Laughter

Be thankful for my mistakes and hope for more. I am learning and growing

 

Play can make us happy, help us feel free to be ourselves and so help us learn and be confident. It can help us contribute to this world with love and laughter in our souls. That is a pretty amazing thought for something that is free, doesn’t require a prescription, can be done alone or with others and whenever you want to for as long as you want to. Wow. What else can this wonder drug achieve then? Can it help us be healthier? Help us live longer and create deep and meangingful relationships with others? I believe it can do all of those things and more. In fact I know it can.

My play keeps me fit mentally, physically and spiritually. It allows me to explore and brings me peace and it can do the same for you.

I play these two computers games with a certain someone that I adore; as my brother would call him ‘my phantom boyfriend’ as he apparently exists but I don’t mention him. Anyway, that’s a whole other story to go into one day…but today is about play. Through our play we have come to know each other deeply as friends. We have shared a huge amount of laughter, adventures in person and online, we have been there for each other through tough times and grown into a companionable silence and understanding of each other that just keeps on getting better. All this from a game that involves brushing bison and a card game that I still don’t understand but love. Without our play where would we be?

So today I encourage you all to go and experience this wonder drug called Play for yourselves. Go and take half an hour to play with a friend, with your children, you family or just on your own. Try and turn the work you are dreading into an opportunity to play and act your way through it. Go play and be free.

 

Find it funny, laugh at your mistakes and just play this game called life.