finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Willingness to Change

Change is hard. Period.

No one will deny that. 

Also listening can be hard. Period. (That's a lot of periods. Why so many Kim? My shoes feel tight today...) We are so full of our own thoughts and ideas that it's sometimes hard to separate out the static.

Improv geniuses TJ and Dave (TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi) said (one or both of them at any rate)"Listening is the willingness to change". I think that's rather profound.

Listening is the willingness to change. Hm. So. In order to truly listen, we must be willing to change. To be changed. Dang it. That's hard. We don't necessarily want to be changed. We are often comfortable where we are. I don't know about you, but sometimes to me, change seems unnecessary and like an awful lot of work. Right? Can't I just listen and stay exactly where I am, in my comfortable-I know-things-and don't-want-to-think-place?

But think about the last really great conversation you had. We are changed. We are different after time and conversation with a good friend. And even in the brief interactions of our day, if we truly listen we are changed.

This plays out on stage quite dynamically with good improvisors. Actor A says something. Actor B can ignore, sort of accept it or listen deeply and actually let it be a gift -- a mind-blowing, life-changing gift. If Actor B chooses the latter, the scene moves, flies, entertains. It looks scripted. It's fun. If Actor B ignores or only partially listens/accepts, that actor has to work really hard to create, to think, to salvage the scene. Would have just been easier to listen and be moved. Would actually be easier to just be changed.

In your next opportunity, see how willing you are to change--- i.e. listen. And then see what happens.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

From the files of the ridiculous things I've done...

So I was at target with a friend. She had her bag and I had my cart and we were leaving. We started down the escalator and for some reason I put my cart on the escalator, not the cart escalator mind you---

the human escalator.

I was not one of these smart people---

 The cart started to fall. My friend grabbed it and held on until the end but then she thought I'd have it and I should have but I didn't and she let go and the cart was front heavy and then I fell and couldn't get up literally. I mean... the movement of the steps and all. The cart was stuck on the lip of the escalator and I was behind it and couldn't get up. I mean, for real. I was like this...literally

Or this---

Or this---

I thought I might die on a Target escalator, or at least have to live there for a very long time. Like this guy---

So read these signs and pay attention.

They mean it.


Oh, and eventually I got up. 
(Like the old saying goes, "Fall seven times, get up eight")

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Playing with Fire

I recently got a day of work on NBC's drama, Chicago Fire. Yay! I play a woman named Claudia, who accidentally leaves her truck in... DELETE PLOTLINE HERE SO AS NOT TO BE SUED BY NBC DELETE PLOTLINE DELETED KEEP READING PLOTLINE TO BE REPLACED LATER

First of all. Really good lunch. Nice job job network television.

Second of all, the cast and crew were amazing. I know people sometimes say that and you're like "Whatever. Amazing-sch-mazing! Doesn't mean anything." But seriously, they were really great. Fun to play with in every way. It got me to thinking... (uh-oh)

What made that day so fun? Aside from it being a really great gig, what else made it so fun? I realized it was that the whole team was actually functioning as a team and they welcomed me into that world with ease. They had a sense of joy in their work, playfulness, silliness. They trusted each other and me. They treated everyone with respect, even a l'il ol' day player like myself. They did their job, but did it kindly and filled with gratitude and  a sense of play. It felt like I was part of something. I suppose like how you would to feel in any workplace team you are a part of or how you would think an actual fire department might behave given the nature of their work.

Consider me a fan.

My episode airs Tuesday, September 30 on NBC. 10/9c  Check it out.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back in Mexico

Here I sit on the shores of the Mexican Caribbean writing you. I know. Shut up Kim.

I am beginning another session of the AKUMAL INTERNATIONAL ARTIST RESIDENCY. Four wonderful new artists will be arriving on Wednesday for five weeks. They will be creating, teaching, sharing and engaging with the community. I'm here to make sure that happens.To follow more about the residency and to virtually meet the artists, see the blog at

I am excited for the possible connections that will happen between artists and between artists and community, all in magical Akumal.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Love Hard.

A Chicago theatre friend of mine's lovely wife died this past weekend. She was involved in a freak accident on a bike in a fast-moving storm. It was sudden, devastating and unfathomable. I didn't know her well, only having met her once or twice, but her death has hit me hard nonetheless. I am thinking of her and her mourning husband Joe frequently, haunted by this seemingly senseless loss. I follow his comments on facebook, as well as the hundreds of kind friends who post and comment beautiful words on his wall and their own.

What a tragedy.

After some reflection, there is no better lesson for me in this than what improv teaches us: LIVE EVERY MOMENT, because you never know when you won't have another moment to live. Literally.

So friends and followers: try your best to live this moment fully, try staying present to what and who are around you, try being always grateful and in Joe's own words..."love hard, people, love hard".

Monday, August 25, 2014

New York. Again. One more time

I am feeling melancholy.

I am back in New York to finish things. (Although I wonder if one ever "finishes things" with New York City.)

I am back in town for ten days to pack/clean/socialize/experience and, well...finish. I have more or less officially moved to Chicago. My things are there. My work is there. My cat is there. So I must live there.

And New York? Well, New York is seemingly my past. But yesterday, today and for the next nine days, it is my present. And in it, I find myself nostalgic and torn, content and discontent, assaulted and embraced, inspired and annoyed. New York. It's everything.

A friend said, "New York never changes" And this has given me pause. It feels like it indeed did change. Or I did. I'm not sure which. New York still offers all it did: a dizzying array of everything. This is what I love about New York. Anything is possible: opening an improv school, creating your own work, traveling to the middle east as a playwright on commission, working as an actual paralegal, falling in love with a refugee, selling Iraqi art, dinner at 4am, summer in the Hamptons, unlimited mimosa brunch, discovering Time Warner cable is your mortal enemy, Times Square blackouts, Broadway auditions, ludicrously asking Ludicrous for water, sitting in the jury of "Law and Order", overshadowing Sarah Jessica Parker, pizza for a buck, cocktails for 22, an A train teen acrobat show for less (It's showtime!!), homeless man poetry readings, cheap mani/pedis, meeting soon to be friends from all over the world...literally. It's all here. It's all still here.

And yet, it feels different.

Maybe I need more space or more quiet or more family or more work or less options or less stimulation or less concrete or less isolation. I don't know yet. I could stay here forever. Easily. But I never wanted to. After ten it time to leap into the next?

Seems I already have. I think I'm done.

They say "New York will always be here if you want to come back." But people really don't, do they? Or I won't. Probably. Sure, New York will always be here, but it's not the same. Once you leave, it's not the same; you're no longer in the club.

As a committed liver and lover of New York, you are part of a club. It's unwritten, but we all know we belong. We have all agreed to put up with the crowds and the crazy and the rats and the garbage and the noise and the urine and the tourists and the tight otherwise-impossible-to-live-in-spaces in exchange for...everything. And when you agree to leave that, you become merely an outsider looking in; no longer a member of the club --- just another observer slash admirer of New York --- from the outside.

But today, I am in the middle.  Not in or out. Still here, almost gone. But still a card carrying member.

I am standing on the precipice between old and new, past and future, New York and non-New York. I made the choice. Or New York did. I'm not sure which.

But it's over New York. Damn.

Don't get me wrong: Like any old, hard-to-get-over love--- I will always long for you, I will always dream of you. I will always...wonder.

But I will no longer live here. With you. Like this.

In other's finished.

...with love and gratitude.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

4.2 seconds

I wrote a blog a while back about living in each moment and "being open to moments with strangers" to see how it affects your day to day life. Well, I began to question how often I do that. So I've been experimenting.

I've been spending a little more time with my bus drivers, my receptionists, my baristas. I have been taking a little more time and engaging with them on some level, and it's paying off in some weird way. It's hard to say specifically how, but I actually feel more engaged and active as  a player or contributor in my life. I'm finding little things happening --- smiles, advice, free stuff. Yes, even free stuff! Engaging with people on a personal level gets you free stuff!!! And it only takes a real smile and about 4. 2 more seconds of your life.

My mom is queen of this. She talks to everyone! Engages with everyone! She asks how their day is going, calls them by their name, embarrassing me endlessly along the way, but maybe she has something. People engage back with her and quickly become little mini-friends. I like this idea --- mini-friendships! And all it takes is awareness and kindness.

When I practice this philosophy, I feel as if I am living more honestly and creating more meaningful interactions with strangers. It makes life less about getting from point A to point B and more about the HOW and WHO. It's more about the proverbial journey. It's like treating people as new immediate little friends, not strangers, not just necessary steps towards something.

Blogger Matt Ramos writes on Tiny Buddha: "It’s an empowering mindset to be able to create conversation with potentially anyone...Through my experiences, I learned that people are usually friendly and happy to talk to you." Indeed. It's these moments that fill out our day to day lives and create potential and connection and ultimately satisfaction.

Actress Shirley MacLaine says "Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends."

So, today, maybe give up the fear, or the hurry or the attitude and be more like my mom. Engage with someone with whom you made eye contact or with whom you are having a transaction with. Be present with a smile or eye contact or a simple greeting. Be ready and generous with your full self and see what happens.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hugh of my Heart!

I love the TV show House. I was a bit addicted to it in fact: smart, funny, quite entertaining. And then there's Hugh Laurie -- handsome, charming, brilliant, infuriating, depressive, rude, crazy ego-maniac. And cute! Heavy sigh. Ahhhh House...

And now I love him even more, after recently having read a quote attributed to him:

“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There's almost no such thing as ready. There's only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I'm about to go bungee jumping or something - I'm not. I'm not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

Take it from the good doctor: We are rarely ready. And if we wait until we are ready, we will be waiting forever. There's only now. 

Indeed, ol' blue eyes, indeed. 

Now is as good of a time as any.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lessons From a Neighbor

I have the most generous neighbors.
It's kinda crazy. They're seriously amazingly generous with me. I moved into this building about 9 months ago and they live across the hall. We share a fire escape. That's all.  We're very different. I'm in the arts. They're very much not. But from the get-go, they have offered their friendship and have been completely kind and giving in many ways.

Don't get me wrong. I have many generous friends. And my mom is always ridiculously generous with me. I know generosity, but these guys are barely friends and certainly not family. They're just neighbors, yet they give and give.

For example, lately Jackie has been going to the cheap fruit store and randomly buying me fruit! She comes home with fresh blueberries, strawberries, peaches and more. She texts me: "I have fruit for you when you're home!" I of course try to offer her money, but she refuses. She offers to take me to Target and then shares her discount. "It's 15%. Let me buy your things. You can just pay me back whenever." Practically every time, they cook, they offer me dinner. "We have plenty. Join us!" Recently, she offered my cucumbers, Febreeze and a new lock for my storage unit.

Nothing is ever required or expected in return---honestly. Try as I may. They want nothing in return. Now of course I have given them treats and thanks and jams and whatnots, but their generosity seems to continually surpass mine.

And their generosity isn't just specific to me, I have found.

At one of our aforementioned trips to Target, we had a cart full of wares and approached the checkout line at exactly the same time as another customer. Actually, I am pretty sure we were there first. So I smiled and moved in front of the other customer, trying to assume my place in the line. At the same time, Jackie, said to the lady "Oh no, you can go! Please." At first, I was annoyed. As I said, we were there first! And as a general rule, I am in a hurry. But then, I paused. I realized how little it mattered in the grand scheme of things. Jackie didn't care if we had to wait five more minutes. She was generous with her time and her place in the line. I was not.

It made me think.

How generous am I? Am I as generous as Jackie? One definition of generosity is "the quality or fact of being plentiful or large". I try to live from abundance and plenty. I believe there is plenty for all of us. But do I honestly share that abundance with others? Or am I frugal? As I said, it made me think.

Improv asks us to listen and receive, to take and build, to share. I do it on stage. How much do I do it on life? How generous am I?

Being their neighbor has been a lesson in generosity and a lesson in receiving. A lesson I am grateful for. It's made me try to live more intentionally generously. How about you?

As a special treat: here's a My Little Pony song called "Generosity"

Yes. My Little Pony. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Leap into the Chaos

I'm writing again. Sigh. Yes, finally back at the book.

And I'm in a difficult spot. My editor wants order and outlines and some form of chronology, and while I agree with her in some ways and realize its purpose, I need to trust my gut and write the book I want to write. The challenge is how to keep what I know but be open to what she suggests. There are things I don't know about this book, but there are just as many things that I do. So the only way I know to do this comes from my improv training: just jump and listen to myself.

I'm not gonna lie to you. It ain't easy. I waited four months out of fear to do it at all! It is overwhelming to literally throw your book up in the air and see where the pages land. Is a new order preferable and cleaner? Was the old way, my instinctual way...better? Is there a way to combine both?

It is chaotic and I was/am scared to jump into the chaos. I might not work(!) but what choice is there? I haven't done all this work writing this book to just leave it on my hard drive gathering dust. No. I need to jump into the chaos and see what clarity I can find once the dust settles.

Where in your life do you need to jump into the chaos? Where in your life will it benefit you to throw it all up in the air and see what lands where? Is it easy? Um, no. But necessary? Maybe...

I'll let you know what I discover.

Share your thoughts below. Would love to interact with you. Love this quote from my man Deepak:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Heads up!

So I was sitting at Starbucks last week working on editing my memoir when I started to text my friend Michael. We texted for probably fifteen minutes off and on about minutia and silliness, nothing important. I was just working and occasionally texting him. He lives nearby the Starbucks, so at one point, bored and searching for distraction, I invited him to join me at the coffee superpower.

He asked me if I just arrived there. I replied I hadn't, that in fact I had been sitting here for over two hours. Turns out, ten minutes prior, while he was texting me, he was at the very same Starbucks himself, ordering a drink right across from the table at which I was sitting. We were texting each other while standing less than ten feet from the other! How did neither of us ever look up? How did we miss the moment to observe surroundings and consequently each other? What a silly miss. We laughed it off, but it made me think. What else am I missing when I don't look up? When else am I buried in something when an opportunity for connection, the one I was actually seeking, is right in front of me?

Food for thought: Look up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Story Diary

With everything happening these days in Iraq. I am reminded of the small book I wrote 2 years ago called, Story Diary. It was published as part of the Veterans Book Project.

It speaks to my experience in the Middle East in the fall of 2009 meeting with hundreds of Iraqi refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. It was a life changing experience and created in me a need to advocate for refugees. I am currently writing a larger book, a memoir, about the experience of falling in love with one particular refugee. The book is called Three Days in Damascus, hopefully published soon.

But in the meantime, here is an excerpt from Story Diary.

The next house had eight people living in one small apartment and they were all fighting to talk, to tell me their story. I couldn’t keep up and my head was pounding, spinning. So many voices and translations and stories.

When will this stop? I’m so tired. 

An uncle died. Someone worked for US. Want to see my papers? They killed the child. Neighbor kidnapped. We need help! We have nothing. I realize I must have stopped listening because suddenly someone starts to sing and laugh and then the father rises to dance and the brother and the children join him and then the mother rises and before I know it all the family members are up dancing, doing the traditional Iraqi dance, the Debke and then I am dancing. We are all laughing and singing and dancing. What happened? How am I dancing right now? All I feel is joy and release and happiness. And then I accidentally knock over my teacup. It shatters and I stop dancing, horrified. Everything stops. But then the mother grabs my arm, looks me square in the eyes 

"No! Dance!" 

And so we did.

Full book available via my website or via me personally, $20 if you are interested or free online at

Also, here is an Op-Ed in tomorrows New York Times about the situation in Iraq for refugees, written by my colleague Kirk W. Johnson. It's clear and concise and brutally reminds us how we have abandoned are Iraqi friends.

For more, follow me on Twitter.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Things to do on World Refugee Day

So, it's WORLD REFUGEE DAY. What does that even mean, you may ask. It is a day set aside to at least remember and think about the 50 million displaced persons worldwide and more than 15 million refugees. 15 million. But there's more that you can do if you want. Here's some ideas. 

1. Volunteer with a refugee organization in your neighborhood. Work with recently resettled refugees on language, culture or public transport! or volunteer to work in the office or to tutor a refugee or countless other things you could volunteer to do to help. Just ask!

2. Donate lightly used kitchenware or furniture or books  to a local refugee agency. They are always in need to help new refugees get settled in their new home.

3. Give money to any number of refugee agencies: UNHCR, World Relief, Refugee One, Heartland, Catholic Charities etc. Or google and find your own smaller favorite (Contact me for mine!)

4. Attend an event today in your town to show your support of refugees.

5. Write your congresspeople to encourage them to continue funding refugee bills. Needed more than ever with Iraq and Syria.

6. Befriend a recently resettled person in your community. Help them get acclimated.

7. Or just be friendly and talk to someone who maybe speaks a different language or looks lost or sad or scared in your day today. Try to help someone in need with kindness today. That would be a great way to honor WRD.

No one ever expects to become a refugee. Ask three million Syrians. Anyone can become a refugee.

Add your own ideas how to help refugees in the comment section below.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Artist Residency in Mexico!

Are you interested in a creative escape? Interested in paradise? Applications are now being accepted for the AKUMAL INTERNATIONAL ARTIST RESIDENCY in Akumal, Mexico for the fall. It is a 5-week session. Artists of all stripes encouraged to apply. It is bliss. Hope to see you there!

The Akumal International Artists Residency was a transformative experience. I found the physical and culture environment incredibly stimulating. I was able to realize a number of projects that I had been thinking about for some time. It was also fantastic being with other international artists working with a variety of media and subject matter. The ideas formed during this residency continue to inform and impact my work and process. Aaron Putt, visual artist, U.S.

@akumalresidency on twitter

Akumal International Artist Residency on facebook

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Life Lived

Author Dawna Markova wrote a book entitled "I will not die a life unlived." Love it. Love that phrase. That is also my philosophy and perhaps yours. Live life fully, because it is brief, a mere blip in the whole scheme of things and we never know when it is going to end.

A friend of mine from Minneapolis recently died. I didn't see her often, and not for quite a while, but she was best friends with a very dear friend of mine. She was always around and certainly in my life's periphery: Mary, Mary, Mary. She had a dry sense of humor, was a generous and kind human being and a wicked costume designer. And then suddenly, unexpectedly, she died.

I mourn her loss of life, her missing essence in this world, but there's something else. Her death shook me.  She died suddenly and without reason, really. How did this happen? That must be what her family and close friends are asking, as well. But this is what happens, right? This is what happens. 


I know it's a cliche, but a cliche because it's true: Life is short. Take yours by the horns. I will too. We never know when it ends.

Rest in peace, Mary. Thank you for your gifts. Thank you for your spirit. Thank you for your art.

You did not die a life unlived.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Little Moments...

How true!

I just finished reading a lovely article about the importance of the small interactions in our days, the little moments which often slip by us unnoticed. Too often, we go through our commutes and coffee purchases and street bumps without so much as a boo. We are busy with our iPhones and iPods and iBuds. (is that a thing?) that we miss it. We miss everything. We miss the little moments, the little interactions, the MOMENTS that make up our days and our lives. We miss the billboard advertising what we need. We miss the child looking at us. We miss the woman who desperately needs a smile. We miss a potential new friend, the opportunity for kindness, the hello, the thank you, the... everything.

How many moments are you missing? How many did you already miss just today?

I like the idea that when you engage in the moment, you get happier.  The little moments, the little relationships are satisfying, way more satisfying than shutting down and isolating, way more satisfying than our iThings and the latest status update. When we connect with other humans, there is a mental health payoff.

Give it a try.

Talk to someone. Notice something. Be more present. Engage in your life.

And be happier.

Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Funny Officiant

I am a licensed officiant. Did you know that? Sometimes even I forget.

I have performed dozens of weddings for friends, family and even strangers. Lots for strangers actually. It's a side business I love. With family and friends, marrying them is an honor. So great. I've had such fun marrying friends and family. But with strangers, it feels illicit or illegal in some way. Like I'm peeking into their private moment without invitation. I mean, after all, I'm just an actor. But I have to remind myself that I have been invited and I am actually kind of important in their ceremony.

I do whatever people want for their weddings--anything from just a joyful, playful tone to the ceremony to storytelling to full on standup. I love officiating weddings.


One wedding, they wanted standup. Straight up stand up. It was awful. I really thought I bombed. The Russian bride and groom seemed to enjoy it, were smiling and laughing throughout, but no one else did. No one. All stoic non-entertained faces. After the ceremony, devastated by what I thought was massive failure, I learned no one else spoke English, just the bride and groom.  Well that explains that. Would have been nice to know ahead of time.

Another ceremony was on a boat on the Hudson River in NYC. Beautiful, sunny day, just slightly choppy waters. Halfway through the ceremony, we hit a big wave and the groom fell over. And then I fell on top of him. Yes, on top of him. On top of the groom. We all nervously laughed as the groomsmen tried to pull me off the groom. It had nothing to do with the champagne I just drank. I don't think.

Another ceremony was two minutes --- literally two minutes. It's all they wanted.

"Do you?"

"Do you?"

"Then by the power vested in me by some online church...."

Life is funny. So many moments we get to participate in if we pay attention and sometimes...get lucky.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

10 Ways to Improvise Your Day. The Reboot.

  1. Walk a different hall, drive a different route, take a different path.
  2. Actually "hear" what is being said to you, not just the words.
  3. Talk in an accent at Starbucks.
  4. Speak your truth to someone with whom you haven't been lately.
  5. Dress your stapler up in character. Name it. Refer to it with a coworker.
  6. Do something new every chance you get.
  7. Close your eyes. Big breath. Open your eyes. Be present.
  8. Take a risk---big or small. Just take a risk.
  9. Say yes to 3 things suggested or asked.
  10. Be more of who you are.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Danger of a Single Story

I recently watched a TED talk given by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  During this talk she eloquently described what she calls, “the danger of a single story.” She had a horrific tale of growing up in Nigeria, but when she tells that story, she is wary. She is aware of how it adds to the collective ONE story people know about Nigeria: BAD. Recent events involving the kidnapped girls in Nigeria is case in point and adds to the story. Nigeria, and even Africa as a whole is dangerous and bad.

This blanket statement of course isn't true. One story never is. It is always more complicated than that. There is usually more than one story.

When two people have opposing stories, it is said that the truth usually lies somewhere between each story. I have found this to be almost always true. Our story is just that---our story! Is it the truth? Is there a truth? Or is there only your  truth?

Look at this in regards to the people you work with or those you are in a relationship with. When we have a conflict or disagreement, our story is usually the "right" one, right? That's the "true" one --- the single story. But of course, that's dangerous. There's always more than one side to every story, perhaps even more than one story. Africa is a beautiful and diverse continent with a varied and fascinating history. It's more than the single story of danger.

People can be like that too. They can be more complicated than we remember. Often we label them. My mom is like that or John is like this. Done. We know them. That's who they are. The end. But people are more complicated than that. In fact, people have more than one story too. They are more than one story. We have to be present with them moment to moment to discover who they really are in this moment, not last week or last year, but in this moment. Who is standing in front of you? What are they offering you now? What's their story?

Improv training encourages to look and live thoroughly in EACH moment, to not assume anything, because each moment is new. We're creating a story right now! ---making it up! And aren't we making it up in real life too?

If you'd like me to come into you group, team, organization or company and teach more of these lessons through improvisation, please be in touch. Training dates now available through this fall.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Sorry for the radio silence!

I'm back in Chicago from my three months in sunny Mexico. Woe is me!
(honest to God, I sat on this beach. ridiculous.)

I was happily directing the brand new international artist residency in Akumal aptly titled the Akumal International Artist Residency. (Click on the link if you want to know more about that wild and crazy experience. There is a blog on the website as well, tracking the adventures!) I met wonderful artists and helped them share themselves and their work with the sleepy seaside community of Akumal and its neighbors. Many wonderful events and happenings occurred for which I am grateful-- Cesan showed us how to paint with the sun, Katarina showed us young confidence, Magda introduced us to a mermaid, Naomi made us see with our eyes closed, Aaron taught us perspective and Sarah stood in the water for 12 hours making us think and more, more, more! So many vivid experiences on the Mayan riviera. Such a 10 weeks! And now I'm back.

It's a little cold.

I'm getting resettled in my new home in the midwest. Transitions are hard.

Improv shows us that transitions can be important and not something just to blow past on the way to what's next, that the transition can have meaning and maybe even...lead to whats next -- a different "what's next" than you thought. That's why I love long-form improv -- transitions can be fun! So, let's look at what you have to do to make that work on stage.

First of all, you have to be present, pay attention -- look, listen.

You also need to say yes to what you're gifted. Just take it.

And perhaps most importantly, you need to play. You have to be willing to play.  Play the game, play the ride, play the impulse.

Just follow the flow, and voila! you're in the next scene. Magic.

So, maybe that's true in life's transitions too! Maybe at these points in our lives that are uncertain, wobbly even, we just need to look and listen, say yes to what the universe presents us...and play.

Let's both try it and see what happens. Deal?

As always, your comments and questions are welcome. Would be nice to converse...

(not Converse---the running shoes. Just to be clear. Ah, ocean brain.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


So one of the things I'm doing down in Mexico at this crazy residency I got myself director of is to host weekly salons. The idea (stolen really from my friend Cat...who in turn stole it, France, I think) is to gather artists of all stripes (including art lovers) and share works in progress, talk about art, creative process, get feedback, ask questions, engage in dialogue and drink good wine. Everyone contributes in some way.

The community of Akumal has definitely been responding. We have been filled to capacity on almost every night. The attending members are asking questions and engaging in dialogue. It's really lovely.

Last Sunday, we had a 9 year old artist share work. Katerina came with her family the previous week and asked if she could share some of her artwork at the next salon. So I said yes, wanting to support budding artists...and she was astonishing -- articulate, brave and certain. She was so certain. She said she knew someday she would be a famous artist. It was said without a smile or any type of coyness. She was simply stating a fact. When I asked where her ideas for pictures came, she said she simply followed her intuition, followed the pen, drew what felt natural. Duh. I felt stupid asking! How else would she draw? When I asked her what she learned by sharing her art, she said nothing. The better question is what we learned by seeing it. Holy crap. When I told her she should perhaps only share one more picture (after about 30!) she looked at me like I was a ridiculous, sad sack of a human being and certainly 100% wrong to cut her off. (Needless to say, I let her show a few more) :)

She made me think. When do we adults start being fearful? When does fear, uncertainty, nervousness set in? How can we all be certain like Katerina? She taught us all a lesson, I think. Me especially. I have always considered myself brave. I moved to New York! I moved to Mexico! I make surprising, sometimes crazy choices! I'm brave!

But it was her quiet confidence that I coveted. It was her certainty. I want to know things with that certainty. Do you? I feel the older I get, the more I question things. Maybe it's about trust. Maybe it's about thinking less, certainly worrying less. But I don't know. All I know is maybe we all need to be more "Katerina-confident." After all, there is no right or wrong, right? There is only what we know.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Community (not the TV show)

As you may know, I recently moved to Chicago. I moved to be closer to my family. But a move is hard. When you are single and don't have a family of your own, you have to find another way of finding community. Often it's friends. They become family. They become your community.

I have an Iraqi refugee friend who recently got resettled here in Chicago. Alone. No family. No, I'm not on the path to fall for another Iraqi, but I am trying to make a point.

We need each other people. Without community we are lost. Dorothy Day said:  “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

Community can be one person or a full entourage. It's your people. Finding community is finding your people. If you're unhappy, maybe you haven't found your people!

When I first moved to New York ten years ago, there was a time when I a mess. I felt lost, alone and had no real community. I had two dear friends, who saved me, but I had no sense of belonging anywhere. And I suffered. I was lonely. I missed my family. I missed my home. Eventually, I found a neighborhood and school and church and yoga studio and neighbors. And all this contributed to my well-being and my sense of community. All this ultimately made me happy.

Have you found your community? Good for you! Is there someone around you who could use a helping hand. Can you help another find their community? Can you help them find a sense of home? Look around. Be proactive. Is there an organization in your community who works with recently resettled refugees? or homeless people? Or even easier, is there someone across from you on the train, or bank line or sidewalk that could maybe benefit from a genuine smile, greeting, offer of help? Can we try to be more human with each other? Turn off your smart phone. Facebook can wait. And observe. Look. Participate. Don't let life (or opportunity) pass you by.

In improv, this might be called: making someone else look good. We use the concept in scenework to remind ourselves that the better someone else looks, we look. Make them successful, we succeed. (this is also the essence of team!) Make them happy, it contributes to your happiness. Contribute to their life, it contributes to yours, enlarging your own sense of community, of family. It's a win win folks.

Take care of each other out there.

“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.”
Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

writing drill

What was the most important thing to happen to you in the last year? Good or bad. Write about it in first person descriptively and emotionally.

Allow your story to emerge. Write your story.

(and share it in the comments section if you want!)


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

my mexican residency

So here I am...Akumal, once again. This time to direct an international artist residency. ( Fun!

The artists are all here and lovely---5 women this first round--lovely chicas!

It's such a joy to be around the creative spirit, let alone 5 creative spirits. Intelligence, creativity, passion, drive---these are all things I enjoy surrounding myself with. They make me more of all of them myself! I am very lucky.

Today I swam in the ocean, saw a friendly turtle a few feet away who I'm sure greeted me with a nod, ran errands up and down the beach to make the artists lives here easier as well as create awareness in the community and lay in a hammock as it began to rain. But also I already have some sort of stomach thing going on. So...nothing is perfect. :)

Next up is the first Sunday Salon, where we invite the community in to partake of wine and a lively themed discussion, accompanied by works-in-progress by the artists. Should be an interesting night. If you live nearby, come say hello. If not...stay tuned for more updates!