Take it seriously, hold it lightly



My Circus My Monkeys helps people find meaning, and (consequently) clarity and focus in a critical stage of their lives, as they enter – or contemplate – the ‘post-retirement’, or ‘protirement’ journey.

It’s Personal!

A reasonably well known idiom, of Polish descent, the phrase ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’ basically means ‘not my problem!’ My Circus My Monkeys reverses this perspective, and picks up several key themes we think are important for our target market.

  • We trade the illusion of control for the reality of influence
  • We make choices – not always easy ones but we do have choices
  • We take things seriously but hold them lightly – the affirmation and joy and that comes from resolving serious topics like illness, death, relationships, money etc.

It’s Social!

While the ‘beyond retirement’ journey is unique to the individual, and our research has shown a strong tendency to look inwards, it also inspires and motivates our human need for affiliation and validation, to have the sense of journeying together with others. My Circus My Monkeys provides opportunities for self reflection as a platform for sharing experiences, exchanging ideas and generating affirmative, productive action.


The Baby Boomers are getting older and moving into what used to be thought of as the ‘retirement years’. They are living longer and at the same time morbidity (the period of that time which involves illness or incapacity) is decreasing, as we see in research such as The Hundred Year Life – Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. What then is this part of life about? My Circus My Monkeys is about inspiring both personal reflection and engaged conversations that approach these (sometimes difficult) questions. The goal is to arrive at solutions – real, concrete actions that will improve our lives.

The beautifully produced My Circus My Monkeys box contains a set of fifty-four different cards to prompt thought and conversation, a gameplay booklet, plus a journal to document and reflect on the experience. Within the set of cards there are nine life categories, plus forty-five ‘Not Knowing’ cards to prompt, provoke and inspire.

Our research shows that several categories of experience are of interest and importance to this ‘post retirement’ group, and these form the basis of the design of the MCMM card desk and suggested gameplay activities.

  • Health: (i) Physical – Exercise, nutrition and freedom from illness; and (ii) Mental – flourishing, clarity, learning, in balance, efficacy, competency, choice, influence, reducing risk of dementia
  • Spirituality – my purpose, Ego to Eco – from ‘me’ to ‘we’, mind/body integration, meaning, purpose, awe of nature/space/universe, birth and death, my story, meditation, yoga, mindfulness etc
  • Work and Achievement – balance with non-work – leisure/ home/ family/ friends, achievement – past and future, alignment/fit, regular recognition of success, sense of influence
  • Intimacy and Relationships – relatedness, caring, family, friendships, trust, connectedness, compassion, generosity, reciprocity, gratitude, empathy, sexuality
  • Play and Creativity – non-purposive work and development, celebrations, fun, laughter, dreaming, novelty, innovation, discovery, curiosity
  • Change and Transition – transformation, efficacy, surfing the waves of change, letting go and letting come, loss – physical and/or psychological, volition, agency
  • Financial – living ‘in the black’, managing cashflow, enough money and resources to live comfortably
  • Contribution and Legacy – social affiliation and love of humanity, consistent positive feedback from others, a ‘positive eulogy’, mentoring, giving back, leaving the world a better place
  • Not knowing – surprise, wonder, beginner’s mind, curiosity, openness, self-awareness, creative ignorance (‘the more I know the more I realise I don’t know’), questioning


The My Circus My Monkeys box includes, apart from the cards themselves, a booklet containing suggested gameplay, and a journal for recording experiences and thoughts, for use in reflection and ongoing conversations.

The cards can be used solo, in pairs, or in groups, and we suggest simple steps for creating gameplay in different contexts. For example, cards may be laid out …

  • In a line, time-focused, with the content of the first card ‘leading into’ the next, and in this way creating a story
  • In a horse shoe, an ‘arch’ of topics arranged over a key card, the key focus of the conversation, showing influences and resonances
  • In layers or series, where, say one card is covered by (restricted by) a second, and ‘redeemed’ by a third
  • In a circular spread, where each card is related to its neighbours to create a holistic ‘at a glance’ view of the situation

In all cases, the gameplay can take place with players consciously choosing and arranging certain cards, and/or introducing an element of chance (which is where the ‘Not Knowing’ cards come into their own). Card spreads might be used for self reflection, and/or for ‘breaking the ice’ and storytelling to a friend or to a group, and/or inspiring futures-focused conversations about what we can actually do about a concern or an opportunity.

5% of every sale will be donated to Dementia Australia


MICHAEL DONEMANEducator, coach, animateur, creative entrepreneur
Michael is founding director of Edgeware Creative Entrepreneurship. He has a background in community cultural development which inspired work in business design, vocational education and training, and information technology.
NICK BURNETTEducation and Learning Entrepreneur, author, presenter, executive and team coach
Nick is an experienced trainer, facilitator, author, presenter and coach, who has a particular interest and expertise in the areas of coaching, leadership, special education and behaviour support.
LUDMILA DONEMANOwner, Edgeware Creative Entrepreneurship
Co-founder of Edgeware Creative Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about working with people whose voices are often unheard – young people, women, migrants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

My Circus My Monkeys is a series of cards and documentation which can be used in a range of ways—solo, in pairs, in groups—for meaning-making, just for fun, or for having meaningful fun. The idea is based on an extension of the concept of ‘andragogy’, which indicates the idea that adults bring different expectations and capabilities to learning experiences, contra the received notion of ‘pedagogy’. ‘Eldragogy’ proposes that people over 50 also learn differently.

Contact the team to express your interest today!