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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Interview with Mary Alice Long, PhD

(CREDIT: niXerKG (Flickr))

I had the delightful opportunity to interview Mary Alice Long, Ph.D. She is a play-based psychotherapist and artist who created Play = Peace, an organization that promotes a more playful, conscious life through coaching, writing, art, performance and nature.

Kim: How have you played today?

Mary: This weekend, I've been playing by taking a walk with my husband Michael and our basset hound, Mic (Dynamic). I start my days meditating and writing in my journal, which are also part of my everyday play. I completed a new E series, "Jung and Play: For Your Creative Soul."

I also did a bit of play in the kitchen. Whipped up my favorite kale lemonade and tried something new, cauliflower spread; it turned out to be quite yummy. I had some for lunch.

I'm also working on completing my memoir, so I played with archival images and with my manuscript.

I love visual journaling, which is where I keep an archive of images, paintings, drawings, writings, projects...

Kim: Why are you such a strong advocate for the powers of play? How has play enriched your life?

Mary: When I was a child, I played outdoors a lot! I walked for miles and spent hours and hours imagining. All of the parents in our neighborhood had to call the kids at the end of the day. When I was indoors, I spent time in my room reading, writing in my journal, and dreaming.

When I started school, I got the message that I was supposed to be serious about my studies and that I was supposed to achieve. So I went about the business of doing just that, earning my nursing degree and a master's in social work. In 1987, I was a surrogate mother for a couple, and by 1997, I was rewarded with a Ph.D in clinical psychology with an emphasis in depth psychology.

After I gave birth to my surrogate son and he went home with his dad and adoptive mother, I realized that what I wanted to give birth to was my playful, creative self.

My doctoral study included a dance video that reflects my story and a woman's need to reclaim what is hers - what gives her life... in my case, that is imagination, play, and creativity.

Since reclaiming play in my life, I find joy in playing with the everyday and helping those I am privileged to work with to play, laugh, and create - while dreaming, working, creating, and loving.

Kim: If you wanted one message to reach every single adult in the world, what would it be? What about every single child?

Mary: Play from wherever you are, play in the everyday of your life, and create a life of service to yourself and others.

Kim: What are some ways we can all invite play into our daily lives?

Mary: We all have many relationships - our relationship with self, with our children and family, with our friends, animals, and with the natural world. We can bring play into each and every relationship:

With self, we can play and increase self-care and love of ourselves.

With our children, we can value and support play in their lives, knowing that play is our children's birthright (ours, too, as adults!); we can mentor playful living by being playful parents.

We can invite play into our lives by spending time with friends/family in ways that are nourishing.

We can spend time outdoors playing in our neighborhoods and natural settings. Nature helps us to slow down and be the observer. Nature invites us to play through metaphor and seasons of change.

We can play with our night and waking dreams. We can invite our children and grandchildren to share their dreams and ask questions about their dreams and show interest in their dreams. As adults, we can pay attention to our dreams, which come to us as gifts. We can honor our dreams by taking playful action and spending time with our dreams so that we can understand their healing messages.

We can choose ways to play while we work at home, in our studio, office, or outdoors - wherever our work takes us, we can choose to integrate play into the mundane, the everyday, and hopefully, the passionate moments of our work lives. We can begin our Monday morning by playing with the start of our day rather than driving ourselves into the work week.

We can play and create in our lives by being curious about the people, places, and events that present themselves. Research, exploring, and travel can be part of our playful lives on a daily basis when we open up to the unexpected and play into the challenges of our lives so we can move forward in a positive, heartfelt way. We can create lives that come from the heart.

Kim: Let's try a fun, playful question! Please write us a haiku about the wonders of play:


Joyfully playing

I find my way to water

Stomping in the mud!

Kim: Who do you think needs play the most?

Mary: Oh, that's a good question... I don't think there is any one group or person who needs play the most. Play is our birthright as humans.

I hope that this interview has inspired you to invite more play into your lives. You can connect with Mary on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Feel free to check out her website to discover more about playful retreats and her dazzling blog!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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