Talking with, Marney K. Makridakis, author of Hop, Skip, Jump

Talking with, Marney K. Makridakis, author of Hop, Skip, Jump

Episode #192

Today’s guest is Marney K. Makridakis, author and creativity coach.
Learn all about how to add creative play back into your life.
Perfect as spring approaches and we need a creative boost.

Also, some new software and apps I love.

Marney Makridakis

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Beth Hirsh / Whole Hearted

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Interview transcript

Transcription of Interview with Marney Makridakis

Alison Lee: Ok. This is my kind of chat I like to have with someone. Today I’m talking to Marney Makri, she is going to say it again for me, Makridakis. Right? Did I do it right?

Marney Makridakis: You got it!

Alison: Yes!

Marney: Perfect. Perfect. You win a big time prize!

Alison: Thank you. And I’m so excited to talk to her about, this book is great. “Hop, Skip, Jump. 75 ways to playfully manifest a meaningful life.” That’s what we all want every day when we wake up anyway, I think. I’m a big fan of play so I’m excited to talk to you today about how we can play more in our life. Thank you so much Marney for coming on.

Marney: Absolutely. Let’s play. I’m here. Let’s rock this.

Alison: You know I always said to people and they make fun of me, I always say “Can we plan a play date?” I think it’s left over from childhood right?

Marney: Well I love that you are out there asking people to plan a play date.

Alison: Right?

Marney: I think that’s awesome. You know it’s something that, it’s such an important topic for you know parents and child development, educators and there’s play theory and childhood. And then it kind of drops off.

Alison: Why is that? When do we stop playing?

Marney: Well I think that that changes for everybody but I think that there’s a pervasive drive that it’s all about results and productivity. And I think that somewhere in our results oriented society things get a little skewed and we have both an individual and a cultural belief that hard work means we’re doing something right. That the hard something is, that means that we are really successful and that’s where the results come from. And so play gets written off as something that is frivolous or something that, you know it happens after the hard work is done. And I think that this is only just continued and made even more dramatic than in the past decade or so where everything has gotten so frenetic with so much information and the speed of life has just increased exponentially. And so there’s a lot of pressure to perform, to produce and play gets lost in there.

Alison: There is a lot of pressure to produce. I’m feeling it.

Marney: Well and here’s the thing is that when there is so much pressure in this fast paced world, we’re obviously, we are put into these 2 poles, you know. Either we’re in this fight or flight survival mode or we just are numbed out and we need to escape. And so our playtime has become just looking at Facebook or playing Angry Birds or just vegging out in front of the TV. Because we feel like that’s what we need. We need to just escape and numb out. And so meaningful play has totally gotten lost I think for the most part and we need to consciously bring it back

Alison: I know. You are so right. It’s true! We need to do more just fun play. Because what is it we’ve given up not having meaningful play? What do we lose when we just go to Facebook and Angry Birds?

Marney: Well I think that. One thing I say in Hop, Skip, Jump is that play is not an activity, it’s a state of mind. And it’s a portal to presence. It’s how we touch our core essence. What we did as children, what animals do for no real evolutionary reason except that it’s so intrinsic in their nature is play. And so we lose touch with what is spontaneous and true and organic to our humanity. Play is how we touch and amplify that experience of being human. And it also happens to be a really cool trick for getting things done. Moving past procrastination and really getting through a lot of our own blocks. So I think when we ignore playtime, we are actually ignoring on of our superpowers that ironically can really help quite a bit

Alison: Ok. I love that. Yeah. I love that. You know the other day I let my dog out the back in the morning and she took off and just ran loops and up the wall and threw her ball and just ran, ran, ran. And I stared at her sort of jealous like “Oh. That looks so good.” And then she was finished and she came in and I thought “Oh yeah. We should all do that.” Run out and just go “Yahoo!”

Marney: Absolutely. Animals do it and kids do it. I have a 6-year-old and you know, I mean here I am. I wrote a book about play, right. But still it just happened this weekend where we were sitting down to play and I said what do you want to play? And he just looked at me like, you know, what? I want to play. Just play. And that in itself was like, Ok, yes, Mommy is still learning too that we don’t have to work hard at playing either. And that’s what I really wanted to achieve by this book is that this isn’t a book that feels. I don’t want it to be a book that feels like work and feels like self-improvement. Like, ok, now I got to get play in my life. I’ve got to do that too.

Alison: I know. I know. Let’s schedule in play time. Alright so I’m with you on this. I’m totally with you. And I agree with you. I think it’s really important especially, well I don’t know if it’s especially. But it seems to me especially people who are in the creative world. Because to go from a project where, an assignment to Ok makeup a book or makeup a website or makeup a product and make it come to real life that it’s very difficult to jump from nothing to making something without some play in there, I think.

Marney: I agree.

Alison: You do. Ok.

Marney: Totally I agree. And I think that, you know it also can be very difficult for creative people or for people who are actively producing creatively to remember that playtime just for us is really important. Because we can get in this mode of “Ok. Well anything that I make, needs to go on my blog.”

Alison: Oh I know it. Oh my God! It’s so true.

Marney: It’s like “I’m going to the bathroom so I have to make a tele class about you know 5 ways to be mindful while you pee. You know.

Alison: I know!

Marney: Marney: So it’s really important ironically perhaps for the people who play easily who are right [inaudible] creatives to remember that play is just for them. And that’s really important to put that in there. It only serves to the greater benefit of, you know our mental health and sanity as well as what we do produce and put out there.

Alison: And everyone listening, listen up. It’s so good. I’ve talked to so many people the first piece of jewellery or cake or doll, all the creative crafts they make has to go for sale type of thing. Ok, I’m selling things now and the pressure is crazy.

Marney: Yeah. And then we lose, I mean that’s how we lose that initial passion. I mean it’s important to go back and look at, OK what was playful for this, with this and through this at the beginning? Where did the sustenance kind of start to drip away? And very often it’s when we kind of get into manufacture mode and leave that fun experimentation mode. And there is a time and place for all of those different phases. And in the book I call those 3 phases: Hop, Skip and Jump. And I can talk a little bit about them if you like.

Alison: Yes. Well I was just going to ask you, now that we’re in there, how do we blend our play into productivity? How do we blend it so we are not just being made fun of? It’s like “[inaudible] to her. She’s always busying playing somewhere in the playground so.”

Marney: Right. Right. I think one thing that I find really helpful its sort of a contradiction. I know it’s a paradox I should say because on the one hand we want our play to just be for us and then when we also understand deep down that there is a purpose to our play that also frees us up quite a bit. I have, in Hop Skip Jump I name three phases of the creative process or the manifestation which really is all about taking whatever you want to create and bringing it to fruition in the world. Whether that is baking a cake or losing 30 pounds or finding a new place to live, it’s all about creation. It’s all about [inaudible]. So I name these 3 stages as Hop, Skip and Jump. The hop phase is all about dreaming and brainstorming and planning, envisioning and wondering and daydreaming. The Skip phases is about experimenting and trying new things and exploring and meandering and dabbling. And the Jump phase is about very purposefully moving into completion, taking action. Purposefully moving to take those steps into action and jump from one place to another. And I think that by actually seeing that anything we’ve manifested naturally goes through those 3 processes, we can start to see that there are actually different gestures where play is put to great use that are natural tendencies because most of us will have a natural strength of those 3 areas. I’ve got a quiz in the book that you can scan the code and get there online to find out if you are a natural hopper or skipper or jumper. And that’s an important place to start because it shows you where your strength is and that’s a good place to start playing. And then as you said blend and balance to bring more of them. So one thing that I talk about with clients when we are looking about bringing more play in is making sure that we are looking at Hop task or Hop activities and Skip tasks and Jump tasks and making sure for example a given week has a balance of all of those. Because that’s how we can not only thrive in our strength but have a more well-rounded approach for bringing our action forward to really satisfying results.

Alison: So it’s really manifesting using play to help us get there as another tool?

Marney: Yeah. I think that and in the book there are 75 different tools and there are broken down for 25 each for Hop, Skip and Jump. My hope is that anyone can pick up this book and literally turn to any page whenever they are feeling stuck and get an idea of something playful to try.

Alison: That is funny. I’m doing that right now. And it’s funny you should say that because I had a little question highlighted to ask you, what do we do if we get stuck in one phase?

Marney: Yeah. I think you know it’s interesting because I think it starts with feeling Ok about the phase you’re in. Because that helps with negative beliefs that we may be getting either from ourselves or from other people, you know. People who stay stuck in Hop, have head from others “You are such a dreamer. You never do anything.” People who are predominately skippers say “You just try so many things, you never finish anything.” And people who are predominately jumpers feel and hear “You don’t plan anything through. You haven’t thought it through. You just take action and you haven’t made a plan. What are you doing?” And so we hold on these negative beliefs about ourselves and so I think the first step is really owning and saying, “Ok. this is what I’m actually really good at. Let me feel comfortable here.” And then consciously say “You know, it could also help me to balance out and spread my wings a little but touch more of these other phases.” And that’s going to help my overall experience with satisfaction. And so what I hope is that for example, I’m a jumper but my success and my overall satisfaction is greatly increased when I also put more time into the planning Hop phase and the experiment Skip stage. And that’s a lot easier to do when there is a playful way to pop into it. So that’s what I’m hoping the book is useful for. Just open up any page and voila!

Alison: Marney, you’re good. That makes sense. I think I’m a jumper too. So it’s helpful to be able to go back and the idea of balance is so important to and to give yourself some space to experiment in those other areas instead of making it wrong right away.

Marney: Well that’s the thing. It’s interesting because I have this quiz and I try it out and its interesting how often people are surprised by their results. They’ll think they’ll be one thing and then they’ll get their quiz results and then it’s like “Oh yeah! That makes sense.” And a light bulb goes off. And it’s interesting just the beliefs inherent in that. You know, I’ve had a lot of people who’ve looked at the book and thought “Ok. Well the goal must be to you know build up to jumping.”

Alison: Yeah. That’s a good point. That’s so good. Right.

Marney: Yeah. That must be the goal. This is a hierarchical process. Not all at. They all have their strengths and potential risks and I think that that’s this holistic approach that I think makes a huge, huge difference. So if we can make that fun and not wordy and you know lost in cognitive psychology somewhere, I think it makes it much more accessible.

Alison: Yeah. Absolutely. Oh that’s sort of perfect. Because you know, I immediately looking through everything went “Oh yeah. The purpose is to get to jump.” To do more jump. To be better jumpers.

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