As recently as a couple of years ago, I would have found the idea of an online play party pretty intimidating. What might happen? Will it be socially awkward? Will I know what to do? Will I feel included?
Today, I hosted our Monthly Members Gathering Online. It was a play party, and I want to tell you about how it unfolded because it was one of the most connecting experiences I have had online. As I started the gathering, I was feeling a little hesitant - we didn't have as many people as I had hoped - it was me and three men, all paid members - none of my personal "play partners" had been available to join us. So I took a deep breath and trusted a few things I know to be true - that I am a good facilitator, there is no situation too awkward and that the smaller number would give us more of a chance to really connect with one another.
First, I shared some thoughts about play and why it's important. You can hear those here. I emphasized that a certain amount of structure is needed to help us feel safe as we play, and that we can co-create that structure together. Then we each shared our thoughts and feelings about play, and we began sharing childhood memories of play. We did an exercise to connect with the "inner child". There were tears, tenderness and laughter. It felt really good to connect with the pure innocence of our childhood and to name some of the things that prevent us from embodying this innocence as adults. These included our family's "work ethic" - the need to prioritize work over play - and the way we learned that self pleasure and "playing with yourself" is not socially acceptable.
Then it was time for us to co-create a way for us all to actually play together. First, we all named our boundaries - things that we were not comfortable doing. I named that I would not take off my underwear. Another person said he didn't want to share about his family and friends, nor did he want to pick his nose, just to name a few boundaries that were set. I had a few ideas for games - Truth or Dare and/or Mirrored Movement. However, I really wanted us to find a way for us to all play together that captured the collective vibration of the group. One person suggested we start by finding childhood pictures of ourselves to share, so we did that. They were so adorable!
Another person suggested that we play naked pickle ball together. This sounded fun. I suggested that I put on some strip tease music so we could get naked in a fun way. So we did! I was sooo tickled, watching these guys take off flannel shirts, jeans and underwear, while I playfully slipped out of my velvet dress. Then we played for a while, tossing an imaginary ball around from screen to screen. We then imagined that the ball had super hero powers of each person's choosing. We started with flying, then there were orgasm sounds, then there was seeing the future, and at one point, I had us all pretend to be Cookie Monster, gobbling up the deliciousness of life - like three year olds. We concluded with a hide and seek game where each person went to get some object from their home that was a talisman or toy for their inner child. Skipping was encouraged. The objects gathered were a hammer, a musical instrument, some tiny tea cups and a butterfly broach.
We wrapped up by making an agreement to spend a little quality time with our "inner children" this week, and to report back with a picture of our playtime to the group.
Here's some written reflections from the group:
"What a fucking fabulous party! OMG you should have a hundred people!"
"You did such a brilliant job of bringing out our innocence, eroticism, joy and tenderness all at the same time. I had no idea such a weaving was even possible. This experience reminded me of how vital this inner child of mine really is - I need this little being in order to taste the sweetness of life. Thank you so much."
Today's soul group meeting was a joy and a delight. I felt a little sad for the folks who didn't attend. They missed such a great and personal time of deep connection. Sarah's facilitation and encouragement allowed us to create and experiment making something really special.This brought back so many memories of my childhood and times of free play and just pure joy of play. I'm very grateful to have attended!!
Y'all, I am so grateful to be on this journey with you, and to be re-learning, over and over again, how important it is to connect and play with ourselves and one another. Thank you for your courage, your heart and your presence.
I am looking forward to the next time we all get to play together!