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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Little Patio of Horrors

My mom has a hanging plant on her back patio that is a creeper. It is always looking for something to climb and creep on. I sit at the table out there and work on my laptop quite a bit under the plant. Sometimes the plant starts to climb on me. I feel it moving closer, until a piece of it is in my hair. Eventually, another piece rubs against my arm, or my ear. It's creepy! I move. But it follows. For reals! I feel like Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors!" It's like the plant is alive or something, for cry-i!

This plant is clearly seeking connection. It needs it. I get it. We humans also seek connection. I need connection. You need connection. We all scream for ice cream. We seek connection through touch, eye contact, breath, shared interests. We are always seeking connection. It's how we are productive and happy. Like the plant, we thrive on connection and need connection to thrive.

The skills of improv teach us to be present, connect, breathe together, to live a shared, undefined, constantly evolving moment together, discovering the path only as our foot lands on it ---to connect! That's cool...and scary. And it takes bravery --- kinda like sitting under this plant!

So keep seeking opportunities. Keep being open to what is being presented to you in this moment. Keep being willing to be affected and informed and moved. Keep reaching out.

...and if you don't hear from me for a while, check my mom's patio. I'm probably "connecting", i.e. being held hostage by a plant.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Finding Your Voice

I've been teaching a class lately called, "Finding your Voice, Writing Your Story". I've taught it in several cities across the U.S. I try to help writers do just that: find their voice and write their story. We all have a voice. We all have a story. Sometimes we have forgotten that fact or ignored it or have been shamed out of our voice or are afraid of what it means to write our story. (What if someone reads it!? What if they think differently about us?)

A friend of mine recently "lost" his voice -- couldn't talk for over a month. It made me think: What does it mean to lose our voice? What does it mean to find our voice? My friend hated not having his voice. He felt he had lost a part of himself. Indeed, he had! But many of us don't even recognize that we have also lost ours.

In one of my classes, a student referred to your writing voice as the "who of who you are". I love it. I love helping people find the "who of who they are" in improv, writing or in regular old life. And I think the "who of who you are" comes from writing from your gut, from all of you, not censoring, but allowing the truth of who you are to emerge and be present, to write as you think and speak, not as you think you should, to write you

That's your voice. That's your "who". You're not trying to write like anyone else. You are just being yourself -- the only "who" you can be.

Blogger Madisyn Taylor in Daily Om writes, "Everyone wants to be heard and know that they matter. Reading your story to others meets the human need to be heard. Writing your story helps validate your life. We all want to know that what we have to say matters."

Speak. Speak "who" you are.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

3 Days of IMPROV!

Want to apply some of the skills of improv to your life? Here's a way to spend a day! Each of these "days" can be done independently or consecutively. Choose one that inspires you and commit to it for a full day. I recommend writing it down in multiple places, sending yourself periodic reminders with your smart phone throughout the day, putting a post-it on your computer screen -- anything to help you remember this game and change your old habits.

1. spend a day saying yes
Try for one day to say YES to everything offered you. Crazy, huh? Try it. Say yes to lunch, to the phone call, to the request for help, to time with your kids, to everything that is asked or offered. Think it's possible? What could happen? Pay attention when your "no" wants to come out? "No" is always a valid option, an important one sometimes -- but is it your "go to"? Does it always need to be? IS your answer always "There isn't enough time, money, fill-in-the-blank? Is this your pattern? Is their fear or another emotion surrounding it? What might saying "yes" lead to? Make any discoveries? Don't worry tomorrow you can start saying no again. If you want...
2. spend a day being brave; go outside your comfort zone
On this day, do things you would not normally do: Drive a different route to work, take a walk to nowhere particular at lunch, do something that scares you a little bit, speak in front of that group, walk up to a stranger and engage in meaningful conversation, wear something different, ask for that raise, tell your spouse the truth, sign up for that class. Today is the day to be brave and take a chance. How does it feel?
3. spend a day listening
Today, make it a goal to TRULY listen to what people are saying around you. Be present and LISTEN. Listen not just to the words, but to the actions, to the body language, to the tone, to the mood, to the emotion, to what's not being said, to what's underneath, but yes...also to the words. Don't worry, soon enough it will be your turn to talk again, but when it's your turn to listen: pause, breathe, make eye contact with speaker and hear them fully, and then respond, and not until then. Give them space to speak their truth and be heard. How does it change your day? How does it change your conversations? How does it change YOU?
After trying a "Day" or 3...comment below with your thoughts, discoveries, questions! Happy to discuss! Play!

But remember--- remind yourself all day of your goal---or you will easily forget and revert to how you always do things!! Ok! Go!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Like A Goldfish! I decided to move to Chicago for a year. I had great responses from several theatres after a bunch of meetings. I was welcomed and shared and introduced and auditioned. I felt like now was the time, if there ever would be a time. But I wanted to wait until I had a job offer to secure things. I was nervous. The sensible thing to do would be to wait.

But I've never been particularly sensible.

I decided to just jump! After all, this is what I teach: JUMP! So move to Chicago, I decided.

And then miraculously, two job offers came in. Big job offers. Good job offers. I had to laugh. I have been stuck in molasses for a while regarding my living situation. But when you jump, the net appears. I believe this! Improv guru Del Close said it like this: "Fall, then figure out what to do on the way down."

I have been not jumping for a year. I have been "hopping" from place to place like a frog, but the minute I actually jumped, support came.

Lesson: Be brave. Jump. Your net will appear too. And if not?'ll figure out what to do on the way down. :)