The Play For Your Life cards have been something I have been carrying with me since I got my first set. They are an AMAZING tool that not only make me smile as I am connecting more to others, but allow me to learn, support and have real conversations that typically seem to be left unsaid or skimmed over.
I first brought the True North Compass tool and cards out with my adopted grandpa, he has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I am already extremely close with him, but how do you even begin to ask someone going through this how they are without them feeling like they have to talk about the doctor visits and the repeated story that they have probably already told the many others who asked them the same question that day. For me, I wanted GP to be able to have a conversation with me without any pressure or expectation. The cards really allowed him to take a snapshot of how he was feeling within each, and immediately he began to share and comment on his highs and lows. I sat simply loving the sharing he gave me, allowing me to get a better insight and provide tips and ideas of how we could enhance particular lows. A standout from this was his reflection of purpose and in playing realised that he no longer had a purpose, that he had disconnected from it and wanted to give up. Without me even saying anything, he was able to see how much this was affecting his overall mental and physical health and a discussion then began on a new focus- to connect more to his family and friends, to move, to not shut down his feelings and to do what he loves. I was able to do a breathing activity with him, which he shared brought an immediate feeling of calm and relaxation. It was the first time he had learnt this and now uses this when he needs.
Each time I see him, I now have an opportunity to share a game, a connection and support him without pressure, without expectation. Just me, some cards and my big heart.
My mum was second to be introduced to the cards. She is an amazing woman in her 60’s still working and bringing so much joy to other people’s lives. With all of this though, I felt that when it came to giving herself time for fun, nature and relationships she was definitely low.
In laying out the cards, it was so great to sit there watching her as she considered her top three, then bottom two. With each card she was able to share why she chose them and reflect how they related within her life. I loved watching her pat her head and rub her tummy along with taking a moment to feel something natural.
It allowed her to quickly connect to her body, have some fun and also share with me what the card meant to her. After we finished I gave her a prescription- Time in nature, have fun and to talk to at least one male each day (genuinely).
Within the week, I had a phone call from her sharing the little adventures she had created and that she had connected with a lovely gentlemen and was invited to meet him again later in the week. 7 years, since she has been in a relationship and this is currently unfolding as I write. I’m secretly smiling!
I feel and see her smiling more, engaging in nature and she seems so much more open to life.
Then came my girlfriends, bringing out the cards over a cup of tea and getting to laugh, share and hear how they are really feeling. I think sometimes we feel like we don’t want to overload someone with our stuff, yet at the same time are really craving to talk about what’s really going on, without all of the drama.
For me these cards allow this, giving a framework and snapshot of key areas, while still providing opportunity for open sharing. Again I so loved being able to share this tool with my friends and see the way they connected to areas of strength and those needing improvement. It allowed me to understand the low areas and consider ways I could then support my friends. i.e if movement and environment was low, we could get together and go for a walk, bike ride or adventure outside. Simple yet super supportive.