Articles Archive

WHY PLAY MATTERS

happy
An Excerpt from Hop, Skip, Jump

by Marney K. Makridakis

Chances are there is something in your life that you’d like to manifest — and it’s likely something you see as being part of your meaningful life. You might want to manifest:

•    A creative dream
•    Improvements in physical health
•    A soul mate
•    A different job or profession
•    Completion of an old, forgotten project
•    A new home
•    A meaningful community
•    Transformation of an old belief or attitude
•    A certain sum of money
•    A fantasy vacation
•    Change in the world

Of course, there are many more examples, but ultimately, manifesting comes down to momentum. Play invites you to connect to the power of momentum without even realizing it.

I believe in a world where work feels like play, and while it’s not always as easy as I’d like, I try to spend as much time there as possible. My goal is to help you identify, activate, and use the powerful intersections between play and productivity in order to manifest whatever you desire. Manifest means to reveal what is already there, to take what already exists and make it clearly and plainly visible. My clients, many of whom are creative entrepreneurs, already have what they need to succeed — and likely so do you. However, I help my clients by introducing playful toys and tools that help them manifest their desires faster, and with more ease and joy.

Play can be applied to anything, even the most serious, unplayful topics. When writing Hop, Skip, Jump, I reconnected with a friend I had not seen in over twenty years. She knew me in my tumultuous teens and early twenties, before I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and hit rock bottom. She asked me why I was writing books about creativity instead of books that help people recover from mental illness. Interestingly, her question made me realize that this book is about mental health recovery, only not just for those diagnosed with a disorder, but for everyone who wants to radically improve their day-to-day productivity or even make a Great Big Dream come true.

The playful processes I use today were things I was doing two decades ago to pick up the toppled ABC blocks of my life. Almost anything I’ve managed to make real in my life — emotional healing, creative business success, major health improvements, raising a child, concocting the ideal chai latte — has come from the spirit of play. So I continue to Hop, Skip, and Jump through this wild adventure of life, and in these pages, I invite you to join me as we explore all the sweet, surprising ways we can playfully manifest what we want in our lives. Whatever you want to manifest, you can use the ideas in this book to do so and create a life that matters to you while having fun doing it. This is your opportunity to remember how to laugh from your belly, try new things, and feel a bit silly as you play with who you are and how you move about your life. When you connect to the power of play, you tap into the spirit of adventure and experience the amazing feeling that everything is possible.

Why Play Matters
Ask anyone to define play, and they’ll probably give an example rather than a definition. It’s a tough thing to describe accurately. It’s fairly obvious to see the very general ways that play shows up in the human life cycle. Infants play to achieve emotional attunement and security. Preschoolers play to discover their sense of self and the world around them. Children play to develop imagination and social skills. Teenagers can play to explore their identity and express the spectrum of emotions. Twenty-somethings often play to escape real-world responsibilities and ever-increasing pressures of life. Adults of all ages use play as a reward that usually comes after working: choir practice in the evening, golf on the weekend, photography on a vacation, bird-watching and boating after retirement.

For adults, play can be much more than simply filling the open spaces between work and daily responsibilities. Play is the portal to presence. Play is the way you touch and amplify the enchantment of being human. Play is filled with contradictions — inspiring sophomoric pranks and high art, deconstruction and discovery, mindless escape and soulful expression. It is the thing that animals do without being taught and the state that humans crave without knowing exactly how to describe it.

When it comes to the intersection of play and productivity, the secret is quite simple: what moves us is what moves us, which simply means what moves us emotionally is what moves us to action. This is why play helps us be productive. Play is many, many things, but it is never still, stuck, or stagnant; it somehow always moves. So when it comes to manifesting a meaningful life, play works.


Marney K. Makridakis is the author of Hop, Skip, Jump and founder of the online community ArtellaLand.com. Her first book, Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life, hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller lists in several categories. Visit her online at ArtellaLand.com.

Adapted from the book Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life. Copyright © 2014 by Marney K. Makridakis.  Published with permission of New World Library.

FINDING A PLAYMATE

butterfly2

An Excerpt from Hop, Skip, Jump
by Marney K. Makridakis

Shortly after becoming engaged to the man of my dreams, I read about the mating habits of monarch butterflies. When they mate, they carry each other. Sometimes the male carries the female, and sometime the female carries the male. Because that is an apt metaphor for our relationship, Tony and I included a butterfly release during our casual outdoor wedding. It was a whimsical touch on a gorgeous day, except for the very unfortunate story of the butterflies who got too much sun and, sadly, turned into baked butterflies. Trust me, young lovers, you don’t want overheated butterflies at your wedding. But the symbolism of the kind of mutual support we offer each other — sometimes I carry him, sometimes he carries me — remains in flight.

The Different Types of Playmates
One of the most important aspects of the Hop phase is to cultivate relationships and enhanced experiences of personal support. In child development, various kinds of social play are identified as being important. You can use the following definitions to inspire the types of supportive play that you’ll need in the beginning stages of a dream:

Rough-and-tumble playmates. You need playmates who will roll around with you as you toss and tumble with new ideas. Make sure you are selecting people you trust and who do not bring negativity or discouraging energy to the table. My friend Dan is a good example of a “rough-and-tumble” playmate. I can go to him with creative ideas, and he adds fabulous feedback and offers new ideas in a way that is fun and delightful.

Belonging playmates. You need playmates who are familiar with what you are experiencing and can serve as great examples to both normalize and inspire your process. My friend Tama fits the bill for this one. She and I have so many similar professional experiences that a conversation with her is the perfect place for me to take a deep breath and feel that I am understood and really known. It’s well documented that children need “parallel play” experiences, where they feel safe playing next to another child, though not necessarily with them. We need that, too.

Celebratory playmates. You need playmates who can be your cheerleaders, champions, and celebrants. These friends may or may not have a direct interest in or connection to what you’re working on, but they’ll be there to cheer you on. Jean E. is a friend who celebrates with me no matter what. Our initial bond was built around our roles of mothering young kids, but if I have a professional accomplishment, she’ll want to take me out for a celebratory pedicure.

Try This: Have a Tea Party
Take a look at the playmates in your life. Who currently fits into the categories of rough-and-tumble playmate, belonging playmate, and celebratory playmate? Where are the empty spaces, and how might you fill them?

After you have identified those who provide support, use your crayons to draw a picture of all of you coming together for an imaginary tea party. Add details to your drawing to make it come alive. Add decorations, a menu, and other elements. Think about whether your tea party might have a theme: Is it a marathon-training tea party? A business-building tea party? A new-apartment tea party? Do any of these made-up tea words — abilitea, creativitea, believabilitea — spark ideas?


Marney K. Makridakis is the author of Hop, Skip, Jump and founder of the online community ArtellaLand.com. Her first book, Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life, hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller lists in several categories. Visit her online at ArtellaLand.com.

Adapted from the book Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life. Copyright © 2014 by Marney K. Makridakis. Published with permission of New World Library.

PLAYING WITH OTHERS

soulmates
An Excerpt from Hop, Skip, Jump

by Marney K. Makridakis

I recently was at a hospital for a routine lab appointment and was stuck in the elevator for a short time. It was nothing dramatic — it couldn’t have been more than about five minutes — but during the time we were stuck, I had a great time with a handful of strangers. A man says to the woman next to the controls, “Hey, I thought you were driving this thing,” and everyone kind of chuckles. Then he says, “Well, is anyone serving drinks?” Another man holds up his chalky medicinal mixture — for CT-scan contrast, I imagine — and says, “I’ve got a drink!” The chuckles switch to a laugh. Then another person points out someone is carrying a urine collection jug and says, “Hey, I’d rather have that than what she’s carrying,” and suddenly we’re all just cracking up. It was a moment of spontaneous bonding with strangers whom I most likely won’t see again — although if anyone in the elevator with me on March 28, 2014, is reading this, thank you for showing me that even being stuck in an elevator in a hospital can be playful!

Play Can Make Someone Else’s Day
People who naturally gravitate to Skipping often find a meaningful life comes from meaningful connections with others. They are often natural magnets to other people, and as a result, they attract interesting opportunities. Sharing a playful energy in the world is a great way to open conversations, make connections, and expand your opportunities. As you go about your day-to-day life, how might you invite a stranger to play?

The fun in the elevator happened because one person decided to be playful. Because of his choice, I went to my appointment with a smile on my face, and I imagine the others did, too. It seemed like everyone in my path was nicer than usual. The phlebotomist told me I had a great smile. A woman in the waiting room commented on my shoes, and we talked about our love for bright colors. The valet told me to “have a blessed day,” and I looked him in the eye and said, “Thank you. I am.”

Studies have shown that, interestingly, positive interactions with strangers make a greater difference in our mood than positive interactions with those close to us. The results of these studies encouraged people to give passersby a nod, greeting, or other acknowledgment. While you’re at it, why not share a bit of play, levity, whimsy, silliness, or the kind of smile that comes from your eyes as well as your lips. That good-humored man in the elevator set a playful tone for the rest of my day. To whose day will you bring play?

Try This: Collecting Smiles

This exercise works best if you are wearing something with two pockets. If you don’t have pockets, I invite you to playfully improvise another solution, such as collecting your smiles with a pen and a small notebook. If you do have pockets, here are the steps:
1. Grab a handful of coins and put them in one pocket. This is great way to use the spare change hiding in the backs of desk drawers or under floor mats in the car.
2. Each time you share eye contact and a smile with someone, move a coin from one pocket to the other.
3. At the end of the day, gather all the coins you moved from one pocket to the other and put them into a jar or container. If you’re running short on spare change, you can simply count up the number of coins and keep a written log of how much you “earned” during the day.
4. Repeat this the next day. Try it for at least a full week. At the end of the week, you can use the “smile savings” you’ve collected to buy a fun new toy.

This exercise will make you aware of how often you smile, and as a result, you’ll start looking for more smiles to exchange. You’ll see how you can use Skip energy to move from person to person with authentic connections. You’ll also feel yourself getting richer — the more you give, the more you get!


Marney K. Makridakis is the author of Hop, Skip, Jump and founder of the online community ArtellaLand.com. Her first book, Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life, hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller lists in several categories. Visit her online at ArtellaLand.com.

Adapted from the book Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life. Copyright © 2014 by Marney K. Makridakis. Published with permission of New World Library.