Friday, November 6, 2009

The Joy Diet - Exploring Play

You can listen to my musical response to exploring play while you read this post by clicking the play button below.

An Eagle on the Precipice - improvisation#2 on C# (for "see sharp")
Helen Yee - violin, vox ©2009

As I've been going through the Joy Diet, I have experienced a wide range of emotions. This week was extreme. In fact, I don't feel like writing much about it yet, as I'm still trying to make sense of it all. I used Martha Beck's suggestions for uncovering what my "real career" is (again, a weird choice of terminology but I'll play along for now). The lumpy nuggets, still to be carved into greater focus, revolve around realms of my Big Desire and beyond: connection with loved ones and others, changing people's perspectives and consciousness, adding beauty and art to the world, traveling and experiencing the world.

Why do I have to keep learning and relearning the lessons of the Fool? In the Creativity chapter, I had already struggled to be light and playful about the big things in my life. Martha's suggestion to recognize the things we do in service of our "real career" as "games" has been difficult for me to absorb and practice. I've historically been a rather strict critic to myself, expecting to know the right answers, expecting perfect compliance with plans whether small or grand, chastising myself for slipping. This week, I tried to be a more gentle and nurturing caretaker of my slightly tattered spirit. Here are a few of my aha moments:

1. My soul wants desperately to dance. I obliged. This week I watched Dancing with the Stars, danced along with Gabrielle Roth's "The Wave" DVD, and discovered the value of regular "James Brown dance breaks" in the living room. Dance lifts my spirits and helps me feel "in my own skin."

2. I enjoy making delicious food. On my most vulnerable day this week I had a birthday party to go to, and I had promised to bake some Pan de Muertos, a traditional bread for the Mexican Day of the Dead. Okay, so maybe this was more highly symbolic than the other food I prepared this week, but this is the kind of synchronicity I've been noticing lately. (By the way, the bread came out beautifully and was given a thumbs up from the sole Mexicana at the party.)

3. Making music is a "flow" thing for me. When I can completely immerse myself in the moment when making music with others, or when practicing on my own, I lose myself in the task at hand, perform to the edges of my ability, feel growing mastery, and can look back at the experience satisfied. By the way, regarding the soundtrack to this post, C# is not a very violin-friendly key, but the pun was too tempting too pass up!

4. The eagle vision and mouse vision exercise lessens my anxiety. I found that most of the mouse things I spend my time on do fit with the eagle's vision. That surprised me. The recasting of "real career" as activities that allow me to achieve and experience my lifetime goals/desires helped me see that the shape of my life is more on track than I had assumed it was.

5. Lightening up is highly useful for me. Maybe if I keep practicing on the small things I'll be able to look at my "real career" as a game, too.


  1. Such beautiful haunting music. Isn't dancing with the stars great - over here it's called Strictly Come Dancing - I believe that Len Goodman judges your one too and flys between the two contests each week! Great fun - must watch TV!

  2. Thank you for posting even though it was a difficult chapter for you. It definitely helps to see how others react to each chapter. Lightening up is something that is good for me as well. Before reading the book I was going to make myself a sign that reminded me to lighten up. I think I will still do that! Enjoy your week dancing and making beautiful music!

  3. While the 'beating yourself up emotionally' might be therapeutic, be sure to allow yourself to release it and move towards focusing on a positive future. Nurture and love yourself everyday.