Tag Archive: Book

Playshop Series

My, as yet, unpublished Breaking Through Concrete Workbook is the basis of a four-part course that I call the Playshop Series.  My friend Brenda, who attended my first Book Signing, suggested that I do a series of workshops based on my published book.  When I told Brenda that I had written a Workbook, she said that was more proof I could go ahead with a course.  Promising to be a participant, she  requested I create something immediately.

Already, the Breaking Through Concrete Workbook included the human experience, not merely mine. By leading a four part course, I would test out my workbook.

This course is called a Playshop to evoke some lightness, playfulness and creativity. Self-expression is needed to balance with the often heavily laden memories. Creative play takes the form of journaling, drawing, collaging, montaging, singing and dancing. In the sessions, creative expression takes the form of writing, drawing and sharing to capture what personal answers emerged for the participants from the questions in my workbook. Participants are encouraged to continue other modalities of creativity, expanding on what came up from the Playshop.

One participant wrote this to me:

“For me, your workshop hit the spot … so much that I could use more time and work in this direction. I’m just thrilled you did THIS Playshop the way you did. Your visualizations and group sharing/support were MUCH more effective for me than conventional therapy.” ~ Marilyn

Since last Saturday turned out to be a snow day, the Playshop will continue next Saturday. This extra week in between gives participants time to create more connections with their creative self.

This is the information I sent out to a group of people before it started:

Breaking Through to the Inner Child PLAYSHOP Series

What is the one thing in your life that is not as satisfactory as you’d like? Is it in the area of Relationships? Finances? Health? Self-Expression? Recreation? Career? Environment? Why has it eluded you? Could it be due to something unsettled from your past? Come to a Playshop Series in a group setting with nurturing, creativity and lightness all around you to get a new perspective.

This Playshop grew out of my book Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents. It is not necessary to read the book to take this course.

Playshop Purpose

To notice how you have broken through the concrete in your life.

To see yourself as the star protagonist in your life using fresh ways of looking.

To forgive your past.

To embrace the best in yourself.

To own your gifts, no matter how they came about.

To identify the Monkey Mind Monsters and take your power back.

To shift your point of reference to life. (Mine was: “Life is a struggle”).


Who: Powerful Players. Those who want to uncover hidden, denied, or wounded,

parts of self. And those who want to reclaim, own and express your gifts.

What: 4 Playshop Sessions

When: Saturdays: January 12, 19, 26 and February 2

Why: Expanded JOY, Greater FREEDOM.

Where: At a Cincinnati location. Possibly in the future, I may offer this as a Teleclass.  People from around the country have expressed a desire for this course.

To introduce my soon-to-be-published book: Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents, I am posting the Introduction here. This is a sneak peek. After you read it, I would love to know what you would want to see in this book.


My parents were my concrete. The emotional concrete had set in before I knew it. Growing up, it seemed solid and impossible to break through.

This concrete story is about the hard reality – the details of living with a disorganized schizophrenic, bi-polar mother and a depressed, closet alcoholic father. My experiences can give you glimpses into the hidden world of mental illness in a family.

Throughout my life, neither my mother nor my father approved of anything that I accomplished, not my graduations, my accolades, my choices, or my husband. At every stage of life, I felt unacceptable to them. Looking elsewhere, I discovered that appreciation and approval could come from others.

There is an undeniable downside to a difficult upbringing. Psychiatrists tell us that human frailties are accentuated in a stress-filled, suppressed, under-protected childhood. After experiencing emotional neglect and abuse, a sense of shame can be intensely difficult to release. This type of upbringing most often results in unrelenting emotional baggage such as low self-esteem, frustration, and insecurities. One can think: “If my mother couldn’t love me, then who could?” That thought lurked in the background for me.

While my mother threatened my life at times, not all mentally ill parents are a danger to their children. Some parents with mental illness could have adequate medicine or behavior modification techniques to control their symptoms. In such cases, the family can be functioning well. The risks to any child are on a case-by-case basis.

In no way do I advocate overlooking the serious damage a child can suffer from living with a disturbed mentally ill parent, or parents. While unattended mental illness is the trigger for bad behavior, undeniable damage can be the result.

There are many highly regarded, accurate studies about children’s wounds at the hands of a mentally ill parent. Though there is truth in this view, it is not the only way to look at this, or any other challenge. If only the pain is perceived, the problems are emphasized and nothing else is observed.

Up until now, I have not read anything of the benefit of experiencing such a childhood. After having experienced the difficulties firsthand, I learned that my experiences with mentally ill parents could eventually reveal to me my power. It took me quite awhile to get to that understanding. No matter what my past, I can view it as a burden, or a benefit.

How could there be a benefit? For one, even a severely mentally ill parent has their moments of kindness or clarity. Those soft, tender moments in a typical mother would be taken in stride, appreciated mildly at best. The same kindness received from a dysfunctional parent produces pure bliss. That moment of kindness can affect a child throughout his or her life. My chapter: Giving and Receiving is one such example.

When demonstrations of love are so rare, it could result in a child giving up and becoming cynical about the world. More often, gratitude is automatically there when a child of a mentally ill parent does receive some symbol of love after long, lean times of nothing.

From the hard times, something valuable can emerge; something that takes up residence in your soul. It settles there because you had to labor so hard to chisel through it. That something might be different for each person.

At some point, I recognized that there is a benefit to taking responsibility for my life. To blame anyone else is to cripple, and limit myself. As a child, I made immature responses that had me experience the solid concrete barriers. As an adult, I have more ability to find the cracks in the concrete. If I only see the limits of the concrete and do not look for the cracks to break through, then I will continue to constrain my life.

The concrete made me who I am in the present. Being “between a rock and hard place,” I found the breaks to push through. It took more than one breakthrough.

All concrete has its weak point. When I was a young adult I saw others unhappy due to their childhood. I knew instinctively that I wanted to be free, and to take charge. Others were banging their head against the proverbial concrete of their life story. Being able to see the confining and punishing part of resisting the past was one of the cracks in the concrete that I grew through.

In disclosing raw details, I am not blaming my parents. They were as much sufferers of their illnesses as their children were of them. My purpose in sharing the inner workings of a household in daily crisis is to speak my truth. Hopefully, my story will help you find your truth.