Unlocking the Power of Play: How Original Play Can Transform Your Relationships and Parenting

Oct 25, 2023

When someone invites me to play, it opens up a world of possibilities. However, when my child becomes stressed, terrified, or overwhelmed, I find myself disconnected and flooded with fear and shame. Receiving empathy support and learning about the brain has helped me live in congruence with my values, especially when it comes to parenting.

But I remember how I still felt like something was missing. I longed for a dis-confirming experience that would allow me to keep my heart open and present regardless of environmental factors. Then, my empathy buddy invited me to a weekend play workshop in Portland, and I was thrilled with the possibility!

During the workshop, I sat with 30+ others in a big circle. Our instructor, O. Fred Donaldson, introduced us to the world of Original Play through a framework of concepts, choices, distinctions, and patterns. I found the guidelines illuminating: no contest, no winning, no losing, no fault, no fairness, no revenge, no tickling. I realized that the...

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Playing For Keeps Intentionally

Feb 16, 2022

Does your family intentionally play together? How do you invite family members to join you? Is it possible to both remain engaged in play and be connected emotionally when others tip over into fear or rage? This is an area I looked for support to understand when my son was younger, especially in partnership with my spouse. 

When my husband, my son & I participate in a weekend play workshop in Portland, Oregon, Kri, the organizer of the workshop invited us to join in the Play After Play* experience. I was thrilled! 

At the Play after Play Theater, the husband-and-wife acting team, Marc Otto and Melanya Helene, performed a 20-minute show based on a folk tale, with just a few props and traditional songs. 

"The play will begin, and then the play will end," Melanya said. "That is the time for wild applause." 

Then came the "after" part of Play after Play: playtime. 

My family gathered with other families filled with anticipation around the tumbling mats where...

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What Does Play Look Like?

Feb 09, 2022

What does "Play" look like? When someone invites you, "Want to play?" how do you respond? For me, play opens up possibilities, and yet, when my son has tipped over into stress, terror, or overwhelm, I can find myself flooded with a sense of disconnection, fear and shame. Then, I’m closed off to the possibility of play. 

Receiving empathy support and learning about the brain has helped me to live more solidly in congruence with my values: remaining open, curious, and understanding, more consistency when parenting. Yet, even then, I have sensed there was something missing. I have longed for a dis-confirming experience where my heart remains open and present regardless of environmental factors. 

I had a breakthrough years ago, when my empathy buddy invited me to a weekend play workshop in Portland. I felt amazed and thrilled, it was just what I had been longing for! At the time I was filled with gleeful anticipation. The weekend gave me a first-hand visceral experience...

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Parenting a Child Who Shows Up Differently

Jan 15, 2022

Do you like to play? I do, I love getting to play with kids especially. I want to check in as a parent, does your child have a lot of playdates? Do you get to hang out consistently with other moms or dads? Or do you have fewer opportunities for social time? Or maybe, not even any? What's it been like for you as a parent? Especially now, because a lot of things have changed.

I know when Rylan was younger social interactions really stretched him.  They stretched his window of tolerance, yet at the same time he longed for companionship and fun. To have time with others. Where we lived previously was in a rural district out in the middle of 3,000 acres of wheat fields. So, playdates and get-togethers with friends and family were definitely planned in advance.

One time a close friend and I arranged to get-together to have coffee while her two young sons, who were eight and five years old at the time, played with Rylan for a few hours. That was a little bit of heaven back then.


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