Play life.


This photo is from a dance event earlier this month, at the Creole Tomato Festival in New Orleans.  That's me in the white top, blue skirt and polka-dotted scarf. I love two things about this photo - my happy, relaxed expression (caught mid-clap) and the Louis Armstrong quote in the background: "What we play is life."  I imagine he was talking about jazz, but I love the quote as applied to everything:  "What we play is life."  Yes.  Louis was using the word "play" as in "play an instrument", but you could as easily use the word "play" as in "enjoy, have fun, laugh, romp, etc." What we play is life.  This is it.  In all of its beautiful, intricate amazingness.  I feel like our purpose in this round on the planet is to do that.  Play life.  Show up and be present.  Taste the ice cream while we eat it.  See the person in front of us.  Practice, practice, practice, and then dance, dance, dance!

And when we ease up and show up, things work out beautifully.  I love this picture too because I've been practicing this dance on and off for months.  The first times I performed it, I missed steps, I thought so hard, I was tense and stiff and very un-relaxed.  I struggled to smile; I was concentrating and counting so hard. Each time I performed, though, it got better.  In this photo, I'm breathing and dancing at the same time.  Relaxed and present.  Playing life.  Even better, afterward at a meal with fellow dance mates, I unexpectedly landed a speaking gig.  I was just showing up, having fun, unworrried, ungrasp-y, and opportunity fell into my lap.

This is the era of distraction. Of doing a dozen things at once.  Of FOMO (fear of missing out) and "compare and despair".  There are a million different ways to stop paying attention to what's truly in front of you.  There are a zillion things to worry about.  There are so many details you could lose your mind - like when you first learn a dance and can't ever imagine keeping track of all that complexity.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  It's summer.  And that means time to slow down.  To savor.  To really "play" life. What might happen for you if you back off on control, engage your senses and enter the moment openly and with curiosity?  Or if you focus on that one important thing and make some real headway so you can finally relax and enjoy?  How would that feel?

Need some help savoring, or getting focused on getting that one thing done this summer?  Check out Pie in the Sky, my quick and fantastic summer class that will teach you how to savor summer and get some stuff done, too!  It's all recorded and ready to go for you, with lots of goodies!  Spend just one hour and gain tons of savoring ideas. Details here.

Wild, wonderful wordless walk

The deer came.  The woodpeckers came.  An armadillo surprised us. We were quiet for a couple of hours, but the woods around us were full of sound.  Robins, doves, frogs, hawks, chickadees, creaking trees, whooshing wind and skittering skinks provided an almost musical backdrop for our stroll, and the peaceful greens and browns of the winter swamp soothed our eyes.  For a little while we didn't have to do anything but be present and enjoy, and it was lovely. Yes-- today I hosted the my first monthly Wordless Wetland Walk on a beautiful woodland trail in Jean Lafitte National Park.  Before we even began, the deer came. This seemed special to me, because I'd asked the deer to please come. They weren't close--  way down the road actually, but one stood a long time watching, then eventually walked away, its white tail flicking coyly side to side.

Our walk was wordless to help us be present.  We wouldn't be chatting or making small talk, or even trying to find out the name of that bird or the species of this tree.  We wouldn't be talking about how pretty the woods looked or how good the wind felt. We would just be quiet, and look for the stillness in our own souls.  We'd use our senses to help us stay in the moment.

We walked to the base of one of my favorite trees and sat for a while, perched or nestled among its moss-covered roots.

We gazed up at the Spanish moss swaying in the wind.

We peered close up at leaves, acorns and dropped maple flowers,

We looked far at clouds and sky and treetops full of birds.

We didn't speak, take photos, or even gesture much.  We just walked quietly, looked, and sometimes stopped or sat.  (These photos are from my scouting walk yesterday.) We spread out for most of the time, so each of us had our own space in the woods. Toward the end of the walk we clumped up and watched an armadillo for quite a while - they don't see or hear very well, so I don't think this one even knew we were all about 6 feet from it.

We softened our gaze, slowed our steps, and breathed.  We forgot concerns or worries, at least for part of the time.  We marveled, noticed, appreciated, and most importantly, just existed.  Sound good?  Want to try it yourself?  Tomorrow I'll be writing some tips on enjoying a wordless walk anywhere.  And if you're in the NOLA area, check the Happenings tab above to see when I'm hosting the next wordless walk!