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  • Ellen Broen

Practicing P L A Y

I don't know about you, but one of my greatest challenges is practicing how to play.




As a freelance artist and coach, I set my own schedule. This situation is hugely ideal for me, as it gives me flexibility to do what I need to do *when* I need to do it.


However, my go-getter personality has developed an alter-ego: the Task-Master. TM. TM is a first-rate guilter and is always available right when I don't need him. Let me paint you a picture. After a full and life-giving week of music and coaching, TM snuggles up right between me and my beloved, sticks his sweaty hand into our popcorn bowl and whispers,


"You could have scheduled that client one more time this week. She really needed it."

"You didn't meet your workout goal."

"You should have that aria memorized by now, slacker."


They say the best lies hold just a little bit of truth. Could I have scheduled that client again? Probably. Did I meet my workout goal? Almost. Should I have that aria memorized? Sure, and I'm 90% there.


TM takes my professional and personal goals and negative-izes them. I promise I tried to think of a better way to write that, but that's it in a nutshell. I have beautiful, clear goals for myself, my music, and my clients. Goals that are in progress and being met daily. My heart knows that these are not going to happen overnight, and that my work ethic and tenacity are worthy of pride. The problem is when I let TM turn the things I'm most excited about NEGATIVE. Like a bully who sees a little girl next to her shiny, beautiful bike and kicks dirt on it. So RUDE!


If I give it to him, TM has the ability to suck the joy out of all my passion projects and delights. AND LIFE IS TOO DAMN SHORT FOR THAT NONSENSE! I want to love the things that I love!


Amy Poehler has an awesome passage in her book, "Yes, Please" where she explores this very topic-how some of our inner voices can be the most detrimental, bullying us into a corner. She says that now she's started to take that guy on, hardcore: "Hey! Cool it. Amy is my FRIEND!" (If you couldn't already tell, you need to read this book yesterday.)


She started being a friend to herself, because sometimes it's easier to stick up for our peeps than for ourselves. But by doing so, we can validate our efforts and achievements from a slightly more global perspective. It doesn't mean that that voice will go away forever, but it does give us the power to put it in its place, which for TM happens to be in the backseat with headphones in, listening to Enya and chilling the F out.



When I am able to set TM straight, it clears my unnecessary should-have-dones out so that I can enjoy my well-deserved playtime with the people I care about.

It's all practice, my loves. Practicing identifying that all that noise is just TM. Practicing being a friend to yourself. Practicing sticking up for yourself. And practicing turning TM's volume to zero. It takes time, and boy-howdy is it worth it.


Give it a spin, beloveds. Summer is here. Time to play.



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New York, NY, USA

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