Finding My Backbone While Weaving a Spine

“Get a backbone” is a phrase I have been told before. Have you? How exactly do you “get” a backbone when technically you are born with one? Well I think I’ve found a way.

Recently in the making of the book “When Ick Met Spark”, I followed the instincts of fellow creator Carolyn Good as she suggested we bind our own books. Easier said than done. But I am so grateful we did because in the process of binding my book I actually felt my backbone, perhaps really for the first time in my life.

I am a gentle soul. Love to be flexible and light. One of my favourite mottos which I try to live by comes from the book “The Fault in our Stars”. One of the main characters describes his girlfriend Hazel as someone “who walks lightly on the earth”. That’s me too, although I might phrase it as “walks with light on the earth”. Great words to live by, but it can be hard to be strong when your heels don’t dig very far in the ground.

In our book one of the characters, Spark, has so much light that she almost never has her feet on the earth. She is full of ideas and joy – her mark is made more in the future then in the past. As someone with lots of creative ideas and “what about if’s” I can relate to that. Ick on the other hand is so heavy on the ground she immerses herself in it. She tells us to remember the past and honour the passings. Of course the book is about bringing it all together; the both/and, the light and the dark, the old and the new, death and life.

So weaving this book together with wire and yarn and 2 flexible but sturdy twigs on each side to support the pages and give it all some substance felt very much like bringing these 2 sides together. Of finding the connectors between the extremes while remaining supportive and firm at the same time. Wow. When I lay in bed that night afterwards, I could feel all those elements in my own back. Two supple rods holding me up-right with the strength of both solid (the wire) and softness (the yarn) woven in between.

It was and continues to be a inner sensation I can remember, even when times are tough and a backbone is needed.

The Roll of the Dice

I’ve been thinking of writing a blog for a while now (as you may be able to tell from the date of my last post). And what better topic then my recently created games – Exit Matters and Bucket List – which I have been working (playing) with for the past year. While I haven’t been writing. But like a lot of other times that involve me going “public” I hesitated.

So I decided to play a game. To be more specific, the game Exit Matters. And instead of using this game to help me uncover what matters to me as I contemplate my death, I asked the game what matters to it. What does the game Exit Matters want from me? If you haven’t met me before, you may begin to see why I named my business Playing With Sparks. I learn from playing with sparks of ideas. Never know where they will lead.

This was my first roll – the yellow circle stands for “write”.

So I thought I better write.

It’s an interesting way to think about life – and death – as a roll of the dice.

Many of us who desire a certain amount of control, or believe we create our own reality may struggle with the idea of rolling a dice to determine our lives – or for that matter the next steps of a business. But for those that think life is some sort of a reality game – it’s kind of a fun concept.

 

What I am tickled by is the thought of using the game as a kind of tablet or way to capture what this game, which seems to have a mind of it’s own judging by all the things I’ve had to get through to even get to this point, is asking of me. Not just me wanting perhaps to share the game (the pink circle) or take a chance on the game (the purple circle), or to define my business even further (the green circle) or to reflect on the game more (my favourite way of procrastinating and the blue circle) which were all options.

My next roll….was Choice.

The centre circle from which all directions are accessible. Some people really hate this place. In the game it’s a forced choice – a “would you rather” where you are given 2 or 3 limited options and are asked to choose. Not really the freedom that the word “choice” might signify, but the action of “just go ahead and make a choice already”.

It’s amazing how accurate this second message is for me. I feel like I too can go in many directions – there is a third game already percolating. A book struggling to be printed. Facilitators needing to be trained to begin to spread the game further. I’ve actually been saying this in the past week to friend – it’s like the game knows I’ve been ignoring it as I purse other directions and it just wants me to focus. To choose. So I better.

My next roll was the yellow circle – to write. Wow, I’m really getting the message! I guess you’ll be seeing a lot more posts from me for a while!

 

 

 

The Spark you are Dying to Contemplate…

Wisdom and perspective comes not just from getting older, or from living or experiencing the ups and downs of life. It also comes from contemplating the endings – of life as we know it. From death.

“Seeing the end of something precious to you gives you the chance of loving it well” says Stephen Jenkinson.

And yet in our current time and culture when endings seem to be all around us – extinctions of beloved animals, destruction of parts of the planet itself, we don’t seem to be “loving it well”.

I ask myself – why aren’t I doing more? Don’t I care enough? Isn’t it all precious? Am I that self-absorbed, needy, dependent (you fill in the blank from your own sense of things)? But still I can’t guilt or scare or shame myself to action.

I think the clue is in the first part of the quote. Yes, it is precious. Life is precious. And it is in looking squarely, openly, even fear-fully at death – or “the end of something” that gives us the spark to love it well. But how do we prepare ourselves to look at the ending or death of that which we hold precious that is outside ourselves if we can’t look at our own endings or death? And for a lot of us, we fear death so why would we ever look at it?

As I write this it is the start of a new year, a new time, a new page. Perhaps a ripe time to receive this call to a new adventure.

Contemplating death, specifically our own death, may not sound like much of an adventure. Life is for the living! Life is good! Get out there and do it! That sounds like more of an adventure perhaps to you.

But say we got it backwards? Maybe we should be saying death and life instead of focusing on life first. “Life doesn’t feed on life. Death feeds life” says Stephen Jenkinson. Just think of pretty much any meal you eat, vegan, vegetarian or not and you’ll see what he means.

So I’m inviting the courageous explorers – or even the curious seekers among you to join me in an adventure…to imagine that this is the last year of your life. To contemplate your death in exactly one year from whatever this date is.

If this is your last New Year, or your last (fill in the date) what would you do? If you had one more year to contribute to this world, to hold your loved ones close, to laugh and cry and play and work – what choices would you make? Or not make?

To help you along the way – I’ve got a few suggestions or exercises you might want to try.

  1. Draw your own death. Get out the pencil crayons (I know you have them all you adult colouring book fans) and a blank piece of paper and see what comes up. This was mine I did years ago…20160112_104610_resized
  2. List all the things you want to start/stop and continue on this last journey around the sun. Maybe you think about your work. Or significant relationships. Maybe you want to travel somewhere. Maybe it’s something you want to stop doing – like worrying or being afraid of things. Maybe it’s things that you like doing and want to keep doing. Just take some time and capture whatever comes to mind.
  3. Tell someone one message you want to share before your time is up. What one thing do you have in you that you don’t want to go to the grave with?

I’m going to be sharing some of my “last year” here every month. That’s an important thing for me to “start” doing this year. Sharing my “music” or gems instead of keeping them inside.

I’d love to hear from you about your journey! Just send me a note at jennifer@playingwithsparks.com

Adventures are always more fun when they are shared.

 

 

 

A quote worth thinking about….

Rumi 2

Without even knowing it existed, this is one of my favourite quotes! Many years ago during a course I was taking, we were going through a guided mediation with the instructions to look for a door. In the darkness of my mind I was desperately seeking this door (I didn’t want to be the only one in the class who couldn’t find it!) and I got this absolute sense that while I was seeking the door, the door was also seeking me. I can’t tell you the feeling of absolute comfort and trust that washed over me when I recognized the truth of that knowing. I even created a visual reminder of a door (out of paper) where I wrote almost these exact words.

Remember…that as you seek the door, the door is seeking you.

Deep Gratitude – the foundation for any great new beginning

Playing With Sparks
Source: flickr user maaloe

I am quite excited to share with you what this “playing with sparks” is all about (even more excited to see for myself as I play it into life!) but I wanted to pause first to honour all (and who)  that have gone before to bring me to this amazing space.

I don’t want to make an Oscar-like speech thanking everyone and everything – so I will simply say “thank you, thank you, thank you” and breathe it out to all that need recognition that your efforts have made a huge difference in the world.  In whatever area or way you have contributed, it has been seen and felt and heard.

– Jennifer