LisaI had a chance to breathe this weekend. And to play with a lovely group of women at a retreat entitled Breathe in the glorious oak-forested foothills of Montecito, an exclusive enclave near Santa Barbara. The schedule was minimal with lots of free time and relaxing breakout sessions intended to refresh the oh-so-often busy lives of the women who attended. Me included, even though I’d been asked to lead one of the breakout sessions.

Always attentive to anxious art-makers, I opted for a lovely art project involving oil pastels, baby oil and masking tape. With soft peaceful music in the background, our task was to create negative spaces using cut or torn pieces of masking and play with lots of color, blending them together with baby oil, building layer upon layer. It’s definitely an activity that invites you to breathe deeply while exploring the I-wonder-what-if of art-making. Same Bristol board support surface, same oil pastels, same masking tape, same baby oil. Such different results. Such variety! Such expressive play!

But the best part of play is playing it forward; sharing with others something you’ve experienced so that others might benefit from it, and using it in other creative ways. Monday I had the opportunity to drive to Pomona to meet in person an African woman from Zimbabwe who is a missionary in the barrios of Mexico City. We’ve had a Skype mentoring relationship since 2011, but we’d never met in person. We spent the afternoon catching up, hearing about the Southern California retreat she’d participated in, and brainstorming about her expanding ministry to impoverished women and children. To date the majority of her work has focused on women, but they are beginning to share concerns about their children. The need for additional programming is emerging. As we put our heads together, I remembered the imagery that came to me when our Breathe retreat speaker talked about the “cloud of witnesses” in each of our lives. I had visualized an art piece for myself, but it occurred that it would be really easy to create a kid-friendly, cloud-of-witnesses art project with blue paper and cotton balls. An image that was meaningful to me suddenly was being played forward to be used in another context, another culture, and potentially another continent. I love the sharing and expansiveness of play!

If you took the time to play, what was the gift you received from that experience beyond what you created? If you’ve been the recipient of someone playing it forward, what was it you received – wisdom, an idea, a bit of encouragement? Who did you receive it from? How have you passed that gift on? What will you do to play today?

7 comments to Play

  • Mary Rose Betten

    Lynne: Today felt like “Face the world Monday,” till I read your words and lost myself in
    the sweet, soft colors of the womens work you shared. Who knew baby oil could produce
    such calm. If I poured it on my keyboard would it do the same for my words?
    Thanks for “Farrowing” me into the day. MRB

  • Judy Siudara

    In my opinion , play is probably the primary way to have a successful, sometimes joyful, always inner- expression day. But then I am a child therapist- play is the way of the child learning. why should we be any different as adults? Thanks for the fun blog. Judy

  • Deborahloyd

    Nice art!

  • Having attended this weekend of renewal,I remembered again to breath deeply. I enjoyed this post today!

  • Joanna Ulmer

    Laughing, fellow -shipping, and playing games with other women was such a surprisingly delightful experience. It gave us a chance to be who we really are…and love others for their uniqueness. I guess that’s how we played as kids….but rarely have the opportunity to do it as adults.

  • cynthia

    Great reflections Lynn. Cynthia

  • Deanna Bowling

    I’ve been thinking, Lynne, about your asking me if my drawing was of a nest.

    I had a dream last night about people messing with my plans for my room, changing things around, etc. I awoke to a vision of Jesus tending to a nest in a tree that had lost it’s leaves in a wind storm.


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