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Mar 24, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

When I look at pictures of myself as a child

I see so much that I still carry.

The downward gaze

The anxious little please-don’t-hate-me smile.

Shoulders shrugged and stiff,

one foot placed slightly ahead of the other

in a clumsily coquettish pose.

The boyish bob, because nobody wanted to play with my hair

or with me, for that matter.

The little grown-up fully formed,

Primed not to take up too much space,

The only defiance a turning away

to a daydream, a doll or a book.

When I look at pictures of my grand-daughter

what stands out is the openness of her smile, her body, her innocent gaze,

Excited by each fresh encounter

with the loved familiar

or the completely strange

The confidence that all she has to do or say is interesting

enough for somebody to listen with unfeigned enthusiasm.

The readiness for a ride in the bicycle-basket of life,

pedalled ahead by her mother’s smile and steadied by her hand on the handlebars,

A view of the road ahead into a world where she’s allowed to take up space,

with a shoulder to bury herself in just for fun, or closeness,

or occasional comfort,

whenever she feels herself not-quite-whole.

She doesn’t need to give the illusion

that she can figure it all out herself.

She’s never going to be certain, first time,

exactly how the pieces fit.

But nor is anybody else.

The fun is in the puzzling

and if she gets it wrong at first,

nobody’s going to tell her off.

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Love this Miranda, especially the way you capture your granddaughter's ease with herself in the world..."she doesn't need to give the illusion that she can..."

And what repeated harshness makes us hide in the first place.

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Miranda, thank you again for this so moving piece. Here is your link to it in the story archive over on thecureforsleep.com Tanya xx

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#Mirandarwaterton

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Thank you Tanya, it looks lovely now it’s formatted. Looking forward to following the archive futher

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This is full of such quiet power, Miranda. Thank you. I will create this month’s page in the story archive as soon as I can. When I have I will come back here with the link to your words, which feel like a blessing at the start of Year 2 of this shared undertaking. Tan x

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What power and strength you must have had to give your children what they could pass onto theirs, and how happy I am to hear that you see it in her smile and know you did well to turn the 'please-don't-hurt-me' into 'openness'.

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Mar 25, 2022·edited Mar 25, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

There was a yard in front of the rural cottage we lived in from when I was aged six to about nine. Hens pecked their way around it during the day, Rhode Island Reds going, 'Bok awk, bok, bok' and then teasing us by sometimes 'laying out', meaning we would have to search the surrounding fields for their eggs. Enclosing the yard in a horseshoe shape were some sheds and outhouses, dusty relics of past labour. In one of the sheds I can remember seeing tiny chicks hatch one night by the light of my dad’s torch, all yellow and fluffy, pecking their way out of their shells. Most of the outbuildings were missing a door, or the door hadn’t been closed in years. In one we had a swing, where we could aim to reach the swallows nesting high in the rafters if we kicked off powerfully enough. In another there was an old timber cart, with its shafts for the horse pointing up towards the spider-busy rafters. In the cart itself was an old mattress. We played all kinds of games there, my brothers and I, far from other children over the summer holidays from school. We built imaginary, to us ‘real’, worlds that had us occupied and absorbed for hours. One afternoon visitors arrived and the children tumbled out of their car and came over to us in the barn. They asked us what we were doing. We stood around self-conscious and foolish, suddenly tongue-tied and awkward in the face of their fresh-faced townie curiosity. Our make-believe world had instantly dissolved. @margaretwriting

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Margaret, how thrilled I am to have you take part in the project. I was completely in the world of your time and place - and that made me feel the same sense of shock that you and your brothers did when the children from away arrived. And like all good writing, it has now filled my mind with memories of my country games, and how they shrank into shame when my cousins from away visited. Wonderful. Here is your link to your words in the story archive... Tan xx

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#margaretobrien

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Thank you so much Tanya - I love what you’re doing here. 💚 x

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Such a beautiful memory, Margaret, and vividly described - I can just imagine the dissolution of your imaginary world in the face of the townies.

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That’s a great picture Margaret. I could identify so much with the dissolving of the make believe world and the cousins arriving.

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How beautiful! Your words remind me of my own childhood and the make-believe games we played when we were given time to be children. Games just for us and so thrilling. Thank you for sharing. Tracey x

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Thank you for reading Tracey, and I love that it connected with memories of your own.

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Ah swings, what would we have done without them. And I love 'spider-busy rafters'.

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I remember one summertime, where the grass was turning yellow and dry, so it must have been a heatwave. We made up this game, where we were part of a royal family, and were taking part in athletic competitions. I remember spending a lot of time out on the lawn taking part in long jumps and javelin throws, in my five year old body, with imaginary poles, medals and sand. In my memory the game lasted several days and even weeks. It seemed to be our reason for getting up and going outside for a long time.

I think it was the feeling of being special, unique and gifted that made this game so memorable for me. I relished these internal experiences. So far from the world we were being reared in.

Being in the sunshine all day long, in our bare feet, made it memorable, almost confirming that we were in an alternative world.

There were no adults involved. This game was ours. And ours alone. We were inhabiting a virtual reality that our parents could not access. And I did not want to share it with them.

They would have not been able to join in this world of dreams. And, their half enthusiastic nods, and smiles would have cracked our crystal ball of a universe.

I still feel like this with my creative life now. My playful side doesn’t think about the next steps but wants to give it a go. But I don’t like telling other adults, as they will likely take away my childish sense of possibility.

So I keep my ideas to myself and just try to do them. I trust I will find likeminded children in adult bodies, who can clap with delight.

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What a special time you capture so vividly here Fionnuala. How rich is a child’s imaginary world, and important to hold on to that childish sense of possibility, for life.

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Apr 6, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Ah, keep writing! A sense of possibility and playing with words isn't childish.

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Oh this took me back so so powerfully to the long ritualised jumping, throwing, catching games I played as a child. Forgotten to me until I read this by you. Thank you. And I love what you say at the end 'I trust I will find like-minded children in adult bodies, who can clap with delight.' I am delighted by your writing, and returned to my younger self in reading, as I'm sure others here will be. And that was exactly my hope for this project - that all of us taking part might feel safe enough to show our real selves: our privates joys as much as our sorrows... Thank you. Here is your link. I've used your full name, but can removed surname instantly if you let me know to do so... Tanya xx

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#fionnualaoshea

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Mar 30, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

After school I paddle in the chalk stream til my feet go numb. I search for life and colour and collect it in a bucket. Turning over stones, I ease tiddlers from the gravel. Stoneloaches with barbels like mini catfish, patterned like sunlight glancing off ripples. Miller’s thumbs, with broad heads, bulging lips and spiny armoured fins. A tiny walking house made from twigs glued to grains of sand carries a caddis fly larva. At the end of my session I count my haul and release everything.

As the days shine longer my task becomes more sparkly. Massed wriggling balls, enthralling and metallic, are spawning brook lampreys. A shoal of breeding minnows flashes ruby, sapphire and gold, bright as neon tetras.

One day I slip my net under the concrete ledge beneath the bridge. It comes out gross and heavy. A trout! I show my family. My mother declares it plate-sized. The name brown trout is disappointing. This fish, so cryptic in flowing water, is bejeweled with spots of red and black on gold. Its gaping desperation is ugly in my bucket but I feel like its saviour as I pour it back, free.

I had no company at the river, preferred it that way. When I think of people in that spot I remember a schoolboy who created his own sparkle by pissing an arc into sunshine. And a boy old enough to be a man cornered me under the bridge when I was ten and said ‘show me your cunt’. I retreated, fearful but nonchalant.

I don’t remember the last time I took a net to the river. With my curiosity for nature I play and delight every day, but I’m more afraid now, afraid of all the things I won’t find.

Jo Sinclair on Twitter

@cambridgenature

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Thank you for sharing. A jewel .. full of colour and interest and reality.

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Apr 6, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Thank you Fionnuala, glad it sparked something!

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Jo this is stunning. A whole world, a whole time & place & childhood in a few paragraphs. Wow. I’m on a residency in remote coastal Devon til Tuesday with only my phone. I’ve added your story via it to the website but can’t build in the direct url just to your part til Tuesday. I will come back on here with it then. Thrilled by what you’ve sent. Thank you. X

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Apr 1, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Thanks so much for your positive comments Tanya! And thanks for offering the space. It's too long since I did any 'creative' writing. Have a wonderful time. Jo x

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Honestly love this piece so much. Here, now I'm home at my computer finally, is your link direct to it... thank you again. Tan xxx

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#josinclair

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Well I would read a book-length work by you without hesitation - such exciting writing, fully alive. Xxx

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I'm dazzled by your descriptions. Takes me back to upper reaches of the Thames as a child watching nature give up it's treasures in quiet moments on the bank.

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Thank you Steve. Any child allowed the freedom to be independent and absorbed is a lucky one, I'm glad you had that too.

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Ooh this is nice: 'I search for life and colour and collect it in a bucket'

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Thanks Tamsin

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Mar 30, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

I'm so thrilled you're continuing to do this--selfishly I suppose. I know it's work for you and that you hadn't initially planned on it if I remember correctly. It's been the one thing that has helped me be a bit braver in submitting my work even if I don't meet with success. I keep striving. And I revel in all the voices that join in. This bit on play is one of my favorite parts in The Cure for Sleep...how play of one kind then begets another that you so desperately need. May all of us who need it find it...reclaim it.

*****************************************

Making Rustic

I was once a builder.

Sticks, leaves, the debris other humans left behind: I weaved together nature’s and man’s detritus giving form to what the ancient celts called ‘thin places’, spots where the earthly and spiritual collide, seen and unseen.

I built stick and crisp wrapper cathedrals that reached towards the sky.

This building spark had been lit during a rustic furniture-making workshop I took one August in a small town gray barn, just 45 minutes north of NYC. The $100 a day price tag for “Making Rustic” didn’t initially yield any of the promised fruit—building furniture out of sticks was not as easy as it looks in the books. Crooked lines vs straight; knotty vs even, eyeballing vs precision.

I managed to mortise (hole) and tenon (tongue) some lichen-rotted branches into the back ladder of a tiny chair on the third day, but I knew it would not hold so sacrificed it to the campfire god that same night. And all the next workshop days I let go.

I listened to that gray barn; and it taught me how to sing and dance Tree.

I explored its nooks of mica and acorns, feathers, seeds, and birch curls.

I knelt inside a hollow tree and climbed another that was 250 years old.

I wandered through dragonfly-filled air the day after a hurricane.

I pulled back layers of loam and earth in a road kill deer dump with rubber-gloved hands searching for bones picked clean by bugs and time, a smear of Vicks eucalyptus beneath my nose.

On the last workshop day with the gift of an in-process chair back of mountain laurel, I chose eight driftwood gems and beaver chews from the barn’s trash-barrel inventory to complete my art. In a state of flow and with the help of a table-sized drill press, tenon cutter, glue and clamps, my hands fashioned a forest throne worthy of the Green Man.

Play...to build a chair.

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Oh Amy. This is such an exciting piece of writing/experience. And an absolute gift to me in this third month, post-publication, which is also the end of seven years relentless effort to turn myself from a private person to a public one making art. And also the end of fourteen years raising babies to young adults. I'm not depressed, I'm not unhappy but I am... spent, empty, feeling a little vertiginous at so much time and effort all now put into a book. And so this from you about adult play is exactly what I needed to give me courage and appetite to use the rest time ahead of me that I've budgeted for (I have now til September before I need to think about what I will do next for money: and that's good fortune, but also scary sometimes when everyone else around goes to work for the day). Thank you. And this is why I changed my mind about keeping the story archive open for the long term: long after the book ceases to feel strange and wonderful to me, these stories coming in from you and others will still and always be thrilling, moving, worth the time and effort. How I hope we meet in real time and place one day - in your country or mine. Tan xx

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#amymillios

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Mar 30, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful comments. And I, too, hope we meet one day—I think we’d have much to talk about. —AM xx

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Hello dear Amy. It was such a joy when Sarah Connor - our fellow writer here - came to find me in the cliffside cabin this weekend. We spoke of you, and you & your writing were with us in spirit therefore. xxx

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This makes my heart glad…so happy you two have met! Xx

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Wow! An odessy. Thank you for inspiring me !

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Oh my, this is such an inspiration piece! A wonderful share Amy!

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Thank you so much, Tracey! 😊

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Thanks to Covid-19, my wonderful niece was eight months old before I met her. Shortly after that first meeting, I sat her on the couch beside me. She fell over onto her side; I said “Whoops!” (as you do!), and tickled her; she giggled happily and I sat her up again. She immediately fell over again, and I repeated the performance. When she fell over for the third time, I finally realised that this was now a game (I don’t have children; I was slow to catch on!) Eight months old and she was already able to create a game and draw me into it.

She and her older brother have restored play to my life; their visits home are filled with games of hiding, chasing, building and re-building, as I watch in awe at the development of their imaginations.

Where did mine go? As a child, I had endless hours of fun in my head with my imaginary fairy friend (named, imaginatively, Fairy) and her side-kick, Elfina. I made food for them, I left out clothes made of leaves, I got up early to collect dew-drops from the grass for them. I built little swings in the garden for them to play on. I imagined them hanging out in the fascinating fungal constructions attached to trees in the local woods when they weren’t with me, or under toadstools at certain times of year, or floating on leaves in the river nearby. Fairy doors were not a thing in rural Ireland in the early 1980s, but I saw my own everywhere I looked.

This imaginary world brought me comfort, safety and joy. It was all of my making; I was in control and nothing could go wrong except by my design.

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Tracey, this is exquisite. I love how you move from playing with a child now, to these memories of the past. Thrilled to have you join the project and hope that you will be moved to contribute to future themes as well. Here is a link to your piece in the story archive at thecureforsleep.com Tanya xx

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#traceykennedy

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Thank you Tanya!

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Tracey, this is a beautiful piece. I love the magic of your Fairy and Elfina and how much there is to learn about play from the little people in our lives.

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This is beautiful!!

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Apr 8, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Oh the shame of it! when I recall my cheeks burn with the audacity, humiliation and deep flow of the pleasure of play. My sister and I loved horses, and aged 12 or so, stabled a whole collection of them in our garage. They were ridden out every day, gleefully, seriously. Though we were not oblivious to the cat calls and hooting laughter of the local lads, the pull of play was too strong. Rusty was my favorite, a soft yard broom with an orange head, a "cob" my sister rode the heavy horse, a stiff large brush, a Clydesdale or Shire perhaps. There were various other Shetlands and Welsh Mountains. Some we would have to do battle with, as they were flighty and feisty and we would tug on the belts and banding we had fashioned as bridles and head collars.

No rural idyll was this, but a 1970's housing estate, where the gleeful eyes of the neighborhood were on us. One day we started to care about the laughs and taunts, started to think about how we looked, what we were wearing and blushing with shame, returned the horses to their mundane household duties, pain felt in the end of childhood innocence, that tipping point and realisation that adolescence and adulthood held none of the joyous bewitching wonder of play. Then we discovered boys...

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Helen! Welcome! And what a joy to see this first - & truly wonderful - contribution from you. I've already curated it, with pleasure, into the cure for sleep story archive:

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#helencallear

How you returned to me, all at once, very specific games of this same kind that I have completely forgotten, and now have come back to me complete, so that I'm both happy and also feeling again the pain of when I understood others no longer wanted to play them (and that I would be ridiculed if I did). Yes, the pain of putting it away in our days, in our selves. And, yes, boys became my substitute for the tactile sensory play I was missing. Oh my - all this and more unlocked in me by what you written. All the themes are staying open for the long term, and I will be delighted every time I see a notification of new content with your name in it. Thank you. Tanya x

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Helen you have conjured up so many similar memories for me, thank you! I was my horse, a Silver Brumby (from the books by Elyne Mitchell that I read so avidly) and I would 'gallop' everywhere and anywhere. It was bliss! Thank you. Tracey x

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Apr 8, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

The last time I played was on my local beach where someone dumped tumbles of bricks. Yes, I was alone. Was it playing? I was researching local bricks and their history for some writing about the movement of the families who made them. I was making walls and knocking them over, filming the gradual blocking-out of the view.

When I was 10, after a lot of pleading, we got a swing. It was painted smooth-green when it came out of its box, turning rough-rusty afterwards. My cold palms grasped the solid metal rods, and I remember the gallows above my head when I tilted back, elbows stretched, toes pointed in front. It was ecstasy: the wheee of swinging towards the house, and the lurch of my tummy on the return, seeing the worn-out grass blurring through my legs. It was the dangerous bounce as the frame left the ground when I really went high that thrilled.

When dad built the extension, he sourced old bricks which matched the main house, reddy-orange ones which had a hollow knocking sound when you stacked them. They left terracotta chippings to blow into corners when the weather turned. From my swinging vantage point, I could see my little brother squatting next to the brickie, begging to be allowed to build one too. After that, mini walls of childish bonded patterns appeared, irregular and full of kinks so that the cat walking past might topple them.

When I was solo-walking the Pilgrim’s Way in 2020, I came across a tree swing on a hilltop. I looked around but no-one was nearby. I dropped my backpack and hoiked myself up onto the wooden slat, hoping not to get back-of-the-thigh splinters. I swung nearly into, then back away from the unfamiliar Hampshire countryside - a moment in motion.

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I always love to see words come in from you, Tamsin! Swings were a major part of my childhood, and you've left me with a need to go out and find one tomorrow with my teenage daughter! What a gorgeous piece of writing this is - so textural, so physical and full of motion. Thank you. Tan xx Here is your link https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#tamsingrainger

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Apr 7, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

I made a deal with my youth. Never! Never! Lose the narcotic effect of playful times. Don't let the tocking clock tick away desire for strong flavoured, unguarded fun.

Four discarded pram wheels, a plank of wood and an old fruit box. " Bogey" status. Wheels took me places, brought me out of the shadows into visible energy filled light; masculated me, allowed me to belong.

A labyrinth of alleyways was my racetrack. With untethered abandon I flew around concrete and brick corners, indulged in delicious, dangerous manoeuvres. Raced around red, glowering faced adults ready to guillotine my youth; cut off my arterial flow of fun.

A Spring tide of innocence flowed through me, bogey racing around my alley homeland; pathways that sliced up hundreds of terraced houses into neat regimented rows, all interconnected. A pleasure palace devoid of the weight of adulthood.

A primal lust gathered inside me driving me forward on a hedonistic, head wind that cart crashed me into saturated levels of absolute, joyous fun; ridiculously unserious and carefree.

The uncomplicated days weakened, adulthood beckoned. It's harbingers scavenged my dreamscapes; my playscapes and diluted the recklessness of my youth. Seriousness crept in under the front door and stalked my unfettered freedom to roam through long, outstretched days.

I now stand heron still, as clear, cold river water pushes hard against my waded legs undermining my tenuous grip on slippery pebbles. I watch my orange tipped quill glide with the rushing flow. "I" dare to outwit millions of years of evolution with my modern toys. It's an exercise in patience. I close my eyes and feel the unbroken neurone thread from childhood hum and pulse through me as I delightfully sink under the weight of nature's forces; my yoke of adult poundage lightened.

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Steve, I simply love your writing - the way you can convey sensory memories/experience. That mentoring conversation we shared lasts in memory for the same reason - you talk this way too. I've already added your words to the story archive:

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#steveharrison

I made only a very few light edits for clarity - mainly making a few compound words. I kept your use of the word 'masculated' as - looking it up, I didn't know it! - it is an old word for 'make strong': and I think that is your meaning in the piece rather than 'emasculated' with its very different one. Do let me know if I've got that wrong.

Like others stories coming in on this month's prompt, yours has released sense memories in me that are both happy and also poignant: that dash and speed and constant motion too long gone from my life. But apart from my conversations on here and at occasional festivals/events, I'm heading now in a quiet time: chance to start moving my body more, playing in the days again. Thank you for reminding me there are adult forms we can practice.

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Thanks for making those changes Tanya. I like the shape and flow you have created, more punchy. I used the word masculate to mean empower. It feels such an energy rich word for a small boy and perhaps the adult version also.

Finished reading your book after a false start. Created in me a mind palace full of memoire treasure that I dug and dug really deep for. Thanks for sharing your journey so far.

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Feb 28, 2023Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Sea Play at 9

Heat injured grass crackled yellow spikes into my bare feet. I leapt from their taunt into mallee shaded patches of cold sand. Sea breeze dried the sweat from my face faster than I could run through the next stretch of burning sand, drop my towel and finally launch like a missile into the salty waves of froth.

In my frenzy of wave jumping I suddenly lost something. My new gold bangle, the gift I’d waited all year for. My very own. Gone. Swallowed by the enormous sea of crushing rhythm that cared nothing for my golden circle of all I wanted for Christmas. Salty spray mixed with tears as I was rolled and battered by the relentless pounding of insensitive water, no longer playing fair. I stretched my feet to the sand below but currents lifted me then dropped me, pulsating ridicule at my hope, like a cat with a mouse. Now that it was gone, my treasured gift meant so much more.

The sea turned dark and unfriendly, a sinister fun thief. A taunting bully mocking my sadness.

Again, I forced my feet to the ocean floor and felt a shell beneath my toes, no, not a shell, a stone, no, not a stone. I took a massive 9 year olds breath and scrambled below the surface with stinging eyes to feel beneath my foot. Incredible joy filled me. I had it back. I had the golden bangle in my hand. Relief, then excitement filled me more than when I was first given it. I ran from the waves and snuggled in my warm towel.

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Andrea! How wonderful to have this first piece from you, after our time working together this year within another online community. What a kinetic, sensory piece this is...and I love how it captures that mythic feeling of early girlhood (as well as that recurring motif in fairytales of that time in our development - thinking here of the Princess and the Frog, which begins with her playing alone and happy with her golden ball, before it is lost in the pond to such complicating effect - a symbol I suppose of her self-sovereignty, before the world of marriage and obligations to court inserts itself in her life...). Here is your link:

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#andreaday

Tanya xx

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Feb 28, 2023Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Oh my, thank you Tanya, your encouragement means a lot to me.

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I am 9,7,12 and in-between. I am heading to our beach most probably on a bike and unlikely to be without friends. A rote route of up hill, over railway, past dandelion borders and council house turf, right past the ghosted youth club, across the car park that rarely sees a car, then skirt the swings. We have arrived at Green Lane Park, an uninspiring expanse of grass, daisies and the bald earth of last season’s football pitch, all flanked by ferociously unforgiving nettles. A concrete path pours a harsh line across the park, the only interruption, a bridge over the brook part of Cole. The brook is largely ignored, partly because it is estranged from the path, and it flows a metre and a half below park level. Back then it was lined with the long grass the mowers didn’t turn to, and now the satellite shows me clumps of shrubs hussling to meet, forming an umbrella over the water. From above, the brook, let alone our beach, is truly hidden. We scramble down its sandy bank in a familiar place where the water is skinny and in return for our attention it offers us a sand and stone seat. We dispose of shoes and socks to wade light in its trickles. We are largely hidden in its cleft and content in the long hours of our afternoon. Our young hearts embraced the land as our partner in play, with our backs to the municipal offerings of fun, the swings, skate park, football pitch. Instinctively we moved to the edges, to inhabit the hidden spaces that the suburban wildness afforded us. I hope there are others now making wonder with the Cole as I continue to seek unadulterated spaces elsewhere.

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What a vivid, so fully recreated journey to your childhood acre. Different than mine but - as in all good writing - allowing me to explore yours and return to mine, at once. Thank you so much.

I've added it to the archive, and have your link here:

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#joannahall

However, I'm distressed to find that my Wordpress is playing up this month after a year and a half of no problems with the way the story archive has worked. Whenever I add a new story to an older theme page, existing entries are getting deleted and/or truncated. It's so upsetting and I'm waiting for engineers to tell me why! Worst case scenario I will have to rebuild the story archive from scratch again, using all the hundreds of substack submissions... but I'm hoping this won't be so. And hoping too that when you click on the url above you will see your beautiful entry there!

Very best, Tanya xx

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Thanks so much Tanya, I hadn’t appreciated how great it would feel to have good feedback! Thrilled to be in the archive and I can see mine and all the other wonderful stories in full affect. Thank you xx

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It is such a privilege to receive your words and other people's: and I'm so glad that getting feedback is a good feeling - I do believe from my own very late first sharing of my words that we can all go a really long way in developing our craft of story-telling, if we get the right light words of encouragement early on: if we feel someone isn't simply praising us without thinking, or critiquing when it's not been asked for, but rather really seeing or hearing what in our words has power and potential...

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May 21, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

(This was the third part of something I wrote a while back, the first part was about the women in my family, the second me as a mother. This is where play re-enters my life.)

Post-nest

Isostatic rebound – the rise of land masses that were depressed by the huge weight of ice sheets during the last ice age

I will go feral, slog off the domestication and responsibility that I willingly surrendered to when I entered motherhood, spend days in the woods, less constricted from others as well as my own tightly cocooned constraints. I re-wild my mind, learn to lean into the sun and let go in the wind, to bite when necessary, to sink into creek beds and to wallow in dirt like a buffalo, assured that where I wallow the deepest will become a vernal pool. No technology beyond a wooden clothespin, I will read stones and practice erosion, I will huff and stomp like a deer and run when life closes in. I will map wildflowers and sing to stars, read spots on fawns like the gypsy reads tarot cards, and be tossed like a willow in wind. I will uncurl, loosen like a fern, arch my back, further, further, opening up to the sky, I will receive. I will wrap myself in moss. I will be the pig digging and rooting through layers of soil to find what I want and devour it whole. I will be the cow that refuses to be prodded back into the barn, the cow who will face the elements and eat all the grass, trusting that it will regenerate. I will relax in the pasture, conversing with birds as they pick bugs out of my hair and absorb the day and the sunshine and the shade and the gray storm clouds and the rain, all of it.

I won’t be the squirrel who buries the nut and hopes something will be there when she returns.

I will rebound.

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Sheila! Sheila! How on earth did my substack notifications fail to alert me to this from you back in May. I'm so so sorry. I found it now when a new Play entry came through. I think it is the first time in a year and a half of this experiment-become-core-pleasure-of-my-writing-life that I haven't seen an entry and responded to it.

And oh my what a wonder it is. I really can't get enough of your sensibility and your prose style. You are simply a truly exciting presence. Thank you for being here. And in the event I don't respond to a submission within a week, do please send me a follow up message. I would hate to miss another beauty like this from you or anyone else.

Here is your link:

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#sheilaknell

Tanya xx

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Jul 17, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Tanya, Glad you saw it and enjoyed it. I didn't want to remind you because it just felt rude to send a reminder when you already give your time so generously here. I have felt so encouraged here, but also it has just been fun! Since you liked this one, I went ahead and put the first two pieces of it under the Desire prompt. I think they fit? Thanks so much! Sheila

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Ah please do always prompt me on here if I don't respond within a week - if I was ever unable to check often on this channel due to ill health, I'd send a message to all my subscribers. It's important to me that people feel sure that within a week they would hear from me, given that this community is all about feel safe and valued. As I get more and more new subscribers and story tellers now, it may be that just occasionally I miss a notification! I will go look at your next submissions now! xx

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In awe of your writing Shelia! This is so special! Thank you xx

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Thank you so much, you made my day! xx

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There was a slight downward slope in our side alley between our house and Mrs White's next door. In ran the whole length of the house from front to back culminating in a wee square courtyard with three dangerous steps to the garden. No softened asphalt here, just granite-like concrete.

The trick, as I pedalled furiously to build up speed, was, legs akimbo, to skid to a halt just before being catapulted into oblivion.

Or there was the washing line. A budding gymnast, hanging upside down with legs hooked over the strong white plastic, I could pick up some momentum to swing back and forward alternating between the sky and earth. How was I to know it would not hold my meagre weight.

Where did that bold, risk-taking adventurer go. I hope I'll find her again in my pen.

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I love the sensory and kinetic detail in this. It's so exciting to have a blast of new pieces from you after so long - I think your pen has already refound your adventurer...

https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#jeanwilson

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On it Like a Car Bonnet

The track down to our cottage, high in the North Pennines, was steep and had filled in, to the tops of the dry-stone walls with snow. I pulled on my wellies, which were covered with an old woollen sock, to give traction on the ice, heaved a rucksack full of books to mark on my back, and headed down the narrow cresta run Tim had dug through the snow. It had been a hard day’s teaching, and all I longed for was a warm fire, some food, and to cuddle my own kids who had been fast asleep when I left in the dark that morning.

I could hear them as I got near the bottom, excited voices, squealing around a chunk of metal on the ground. They were in the field that sloped down towards the river. Tim had taken the car bonnet from the abandoned Fiesta and all three kids were sat on it.

‘What on earth are you doing?’ I asked.

‘Mummy!!’ three voices shouted in unison.

‘Climb aboard,’ Tim said.

I left my bag there on the track, climbed over the wooden fence and joined them. We sped down the hillside, the middle one shouting ‘hasta la vista, baby!’, taking flight as we cleared a ramp the eldest had built from snow.

Who knew that a Fiesta car bonnet made the perfect sledge for a family of five?

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Sue I love this! Especially reading it now in the heatwave...

I'm sorry it took me a few days this time to respond: the hot weather is a challenge for me!

Here is your link: https://thecureforsleep.com/march-issue-on-play/#suereed

Tan xx

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Thank you Tanya, so much. It's been a joy to write this snippet of play, and think of snow when the world is burning.

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I love it. And I think you said over on Twitter that you think it is the beginning of a longer piece of work? Or have I confused that with another theme you are working with? Thinking of your as book project goes out into the world... Txx

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Yes, you're right, it is part of a bigger piece on play being a big part of my husband's persons and part of what keeps our marriage alive.

Thanks - the novel is in the hands of submission agents, so crossing everything 🤞

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Apr 8, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

I just love the connection between those gorgeous games you devised from your bed, and the revelation of your inability to play. I know that. How I loved watching your little ones facing around after that light, or fixing their rusty mum through your words!

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Apr 8, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Thank you so much for your encouragement. That terrified me.

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Well you write with immense power & skill - & this is why I created this community away from Twitter & Instagram a year before the book published. An instinct that there are many fine storytellers out there who only need a safe place to begin daring/sharing their words. That’s how it was for me - a small local Psychogeography project finally moved me to risk some words back in 2015. I never stopped writing (or being published) after that first small acceptance of an online local essay. But even if it had been my only submission/acceptance it would still have been a success - a proof I had things to say of interest to others. As I now in turn can say to you! I love how you write! X

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