Rich Moments of Presence in Mindfulness Meets Improv Class!

Liz Korabek-Emerson and I started our 4th Stronger Together PILL class Monday evening with 10 wonderful participants.  It is a unique combination of mindfulness meditation and PILL improv which we love teaching.   We have a blend of energy and expertise that creates safety, trust, and playfulness within our groups. Liz teaches mindfulness, I teach improv, and we collaborate all along the way!

This past Monday evening we did some warm ups and a little talking about mindfulness and improv processes.  Liz then led some sitting and walking meditations which evolved into some nonverbal group collaborations of stopping, starting, and turning.  These moments where each of us and all of us are sensing ourselves and moving together in quiet simple purpose are quite lovely.  In this space individuals consider their own actions in concert with others.  And the consideration, while it may have intellectual properties, is part of what Liz calls, “embodied mindfulness”.   It is a fascinating place to be with others.

From here we moved into an improv activity that involved one person doing a pose or nonverbal physical motion while another person was called to join in and define what the person was doing.

The 'Yes and...' principle of improv gives us infinite opportunities to share ideas & responsibility! Click To Tweet

We had a great discussion about the tendency to think about what we are going to do rather than stay focused on what others are doing.  Talk about being present, right?

Next we did an activity called “The Story”, adapted from Nancy Hurley’s book, 175 Theatre Games: Warm-up Exercises for Actors.  With attention to group process and creating a safe environment, many activities can be facilitated for anyone who wants to play!

This activity involves the whole group telling part of a story and they must include a person, place, or thing that is written on a piece of paper they choose, but can not look at until it is their turn to contribute. The stories were fun and bizarre.  They included a hilarious theme involving a golden paperclip along with fashionable evening gowns, aliens, pyramids, and a gallon of lemonade.

And in between two rounds of this, we talked more about about the mindfulness-improv connection.  Because this activity keeps part of the story a secret from each person until it is their turn, it  nudges us to be present!  In playful, safe, trusting community, we get to feel it!

The combination of mindfulness & improv gives us infinite opportunities to be present! 🙂 Click To Tweet

BTW…

We think this would be a great workshop for management teams or staff with organizations who want to engage, inspire, and connect their peeps!  Yes, we’re conspiring along those lines for a series or day-long session!

 

 

 

“When the Human Spirit Needs Protection…”–Margaret Wheatley

What a couple of tough news days for those of us who want to be compassionate towards others, prevent violence and bullying, seek truth, treat our earth as sacred, and promote respectful, empowered relationships between men and women, old and young, black and white, straight and LGBTQ, Muslims and Christians, etc.   Oppression, in all it’s various forms and for whatever reason, seems to be a popular plan of action these days.

Not at PILL!

PILL improv is about sharing power, playing together in trust & respect, & supporting each other! Click To Tweet

We have a few simple rules to ensure these values are maintained and in the process, our humanity thrives.  Plus we laugh a lot!

We are an ‘Island of Sanity’ in Portsmouth, NH.  As visionary, Margaret Wheatley offers in her book, “Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, and Restoring Sanity:

When the human spirit needs protection the warriors will arise.

The human spirit needs protection.

May the warriors arise!

Maybe you’d like to join us for a summer PILL class? You’ll discover the most insane “Island of Sanity” you can imagine.

Come and fortify your human spirit! Our human spirt!

“Out of the PILLbox Players” Sneak Peak Slideshow – ‘Emotional Meeting’ OY!

Last summer, we started the PILL filming project to help show how fun and easy PILL classes are and to create training material for Medical Improv.

Recently the second filming session of the Out of the PILLbox Players took place at PPMTV in Portsmouth, NH.  We had a blast!  There is a treasure chest of film footage with beautiful humans playing.  Since it will be a while before video is ready, here is a slideshow from an activity called Emotional Meeting*.   

Out of the PILLbox Players in order of appearance:  Liz Korabek-Emerson, Barbara Trimble, Susan Conboy, Curran Russell, Lori Austin, Jody Fuller,  Robin Masia, Glenna Kimball, Dwyer Vessey, Patricia Corso, John Klossner, & Carolyn Vibbert! THANKS  to each of you and all of you  kindhearted and playful people! (Mary Ellen McElroy and Anita Remig were not available for this one.  You can enjoy them in Gibberish Talk Show Host!)

  • Emotional Meeting can be found in Kat Koppett’s “Training to Imagine”!

“Eat Pray Love” & Maybe Play a Little Improv?

Choosing Curiosity Over Fear” is a wonderful interview from Krista Tippett’s Onbeing program with the author of “Eat Pray Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert.  As you will see, if you follow the link, you can read or listen to it.  They are not talking about improv per se, yet their discussion had some wonderful parallels about the process of play and our human experience.

Highlights that might entice you to put this @Onbeing interview w/ 'Eat Pray Love' author on your radar! Click To Tweet
  • A discussion about practical magic which affirms the divine play of improv.

…it’s the mystical things that we need to demystify the most, in order to lay claim to them and to not keep thinking of them as something that only belongs to a very special class of people. The more mystical and precious, in a way, that we make creativity and spirituality both, the more people get left out of it. And I think that’s a pity and a loss, and sometimes, even a tragedy. So it should be that all are invited, or else what are we even doing here?  –Elizabeth Gilbert

  • Exchanges about human creativity which sometimes gets lost in our growing up and life.  

…every human child is born doing this stuff innately. It’s an instinct. There’s no child that you put crayons and paper in front of who doesn’t get it, what you’re supposed to do. No four-year-old boy was ever sat in front of a pile of Legos and said, “I don’t know, I’m just — I’m not feeling it.” [laughs]–Elizabeth Gilbert

When improv experiences are safe and fun, people can reconnect with their own creativity!  It is a delight to see!

  • A really cool story the author shares about an idea she had and lost around the same time her friend and author, Ann Patchett seemed to have found it!

 …ideas are conscious and living, and they have will, and they have great desire to be made, and they spin through the cosmos, looking for human collaborators. –Elizabeth Gilbert

I am convinced that one way to develop trust in and explore the ideas spinning around in the cosmos is with the playful interactions of improv. I found Gilbert’s interview quite inspiring.  Let me know what you think!

Take a PILL & Laugh a Lot! Summer Classes 2018!

There are two exciting PILL classes to choose from this summer!

Stronger Together! The Extra Strength PILL

4 Monday Evenings – 6:30-8:30 pm
July 9th-July 30th         $75

This class is a unique and fun combination of presencing with improv and mindfulness! If you are looking for a way to be in the moment, make new friends, and experience divine play, this dynamic workshop is for you!  Lead by Beth Boynton, RN, MS and Liz Korabek-Emerson, MFA of Korabek Training.

Register Online or email Beth-bbbboynton@gmail.com

Take Another PILL!

3 Monday Eves – 6:30-8:30 pm

Aug 13-27th       $40

We’ll jump right into the divine play of improv! A level II class for those who have already swallowed a PILL or have some improv experience and are looking to play without performing. You can expect a little side-coaching, more complex activities, and lots of laughter!  

Led by Beth Boynton, RN MS.

Register Online or email Beth-bbbboynton@gmail.com

Also, I’ve done a couple of single sessions with various social groups that have been a lot of fun.  Email me if you’d like to talk about such a PILL for your friends and family!  They are mostly for fun and connecting.

 

A Profound & Simple Story of Improv Healing!

Susan, a new student in Discover Pill: The Improv Way to Have Fun, Meet New People, & Grow shared this story  after teaching a closing activity we do to women she works with who are in recovery.

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the improv class, but my sister was so excited after taking one of Beth’s trainings years ago that I decided to join her. I have been having so much fun that I decided to bring some of what I learned back to my workplace.

During one of the sessions of our intensive outpatient programs, I taught the Danish Clap to the all women clients in our drug court program. I wanted to see if they would enjoy it as much as I did(do), and they did!

I reminded them how having fun is an essential ingredient of Recovery. I tied in the activity to information about dopamine and brain chemistry. They laughed and had fun. I hadn’t seen them laugh so hard until then. And these women said they were going home to share this improv activity with their children. Click To Tweet

I notice that they are friendlier now and make a point to stop by my office and say hello. I am so impressed with this and look forward to learning and sharing more.  — Susan

What a beautiful testimonial this is to the divine play that improv can be!

Empowering Leadership in Action & Don’t Miss “The Producers” at Seacoast Rep!

As a volunteer usher, I got to see the preview for the latest show at Seacoast Rep last night and it was fabulous! The Mel Brooks musical, The Producers has a story line that will make you cringe while the SRT production will have you laughing and dancing in your seat.  Seriously, you have to be there! 🙂

Big Kudos to the entire cast while I have to say that Jamie Bradley and Chris Bradley were incredibly captivating and hilarious in their roles.  I’d almost see it again just for them! This show isn’t for kids, but if you can make plans to see it, you will have a fun night out.

What inspired this PILL post though was a subtle, yet profound leadership intervention that I noticed when the Front of House Manager, Mark Michael Adams, was doing the huddle for ushers before the show.

He was requesting assistance from one or two of us at the bar and one of the ushers had helped once before.  She seemed willing, yet hesitant when she said, “I will if you want me to”.  Mark immediately shook his head saying gently, but firmly, “No.  If you want to be an independent woman, you have to decide”.  She stepped up to the plate and said, “Sure”!

This is not a small thing because a leader who didn’t understand complex power dynamics or care about really supporting this usher in building her confidence could have easily made the decision for her.  Such a leader could have walked away feeling he (or she) tried to be empowering while holding onto authority. Which isn’t really all that empowering.

What Mark did was create the opportunity and then provide the support for her to make the decision!  And I have no doubt that he did whatever he could to make sure that she was successful in the role.

Now that...THAT is collaborative leadership! THANKS, Mark! Click To Tweet

Looks like a New Pop-Up Artist Thing Going on in York this Week-End!

My dear friend and business colleague, Joanne Muckenhoupt is bringing her Redwing Hill studio to the next level.  And she wants to make it work for other creative people too. (I think helping others is in her DNA!)

If you are an area artist, you might want to connect with her and showcase/sell some of your stuff. If you like to support local artists and own awesome stuff, come by this weekend.  I believe the guest artists are Andrea Abbot and Paul Jarvis!

Joanne has done the graphic design work for two of my three books and 3 logos for my businesses.  She works to understand her clients so she can help them be successful,  and navigates the tech/graphic design world with ease.

Catch this wave early on!

Redwing Hill Studio! A new Pop-up Shop in York, ME! Local artists sell their way cool stuff. Click To Tweet

Redwing HIll
YorkME
ph: 207.752.6035

Joanne also makes beautiful jewelry and fun T-Bone Talks videos of her cat talking!

Portsmouth PILL Peeps Help Improve Healthcare from Coast to Coast!

This Spring I’ve traveled to San Francisco and Chicago to present a new Medical Improv workshop called, “Risk Management by Design:  Building a Practice of Trust“!  It is a 9 hr training that will bring me to PA in may.  It is extremely exciting b/c the audience is made up of Health Risk Management professionals who work for non-profit aging service providers from all over the country.  (There were representatives from Riverwoods in Exeter!) These are the people who want to make healthcare safer for all the residents and families they serve.

Like many of us in healthcare, we’ve known for years that emotional intelligence and communication issues are associated with problems with errors, poor customer service, and workforce injuries.   A “soft” skill set that includes self-awareness, self-esteem, assertiveness, listening and empathy.  And they are hard to build!

As a nurse consultant, I am one of the pioneers of a teaching strategy called, Medical Improv and have a local business called PILL which stands for Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab! Over the last 18 months over 60 people have taken classes taught by me and colleague Liz Korabek-Emerson.  And several students have participated in the PILL filming project which has provided  helpful videos like Same-Time-Story and Gibberish Talk Show Host.

Look at how these Health Risk Managers in San Francisco are leaning in as they watch Mary-Ellen McElroy, Dwyer Vessey, and Anita Remig play the Gibberish activity.  These videos are priceless teaching tools because they:

  • Fully engage participants in the learning.
  • Demonstrate how-to do activities.
  • Prompt discussion about the relevance to essential skill-building.
  • Offer reassurance that you don’t have to have acting experience to play.

So far over 130 professionals have participated in this Spring Training and many will take the activities back to the nurses, administrators, nurse assistants, activity directors, human resource managers and others they work with in an effort to build trusting relationships and effective communication skills.  The potential rippling effect of this work is immeasurable!

And there I am, grateful and proud! It is like bringing my students with me and they become teachers!  In the very honorable work of making healthcare safer and more compassionate! Thank you PILL Peeps! 🙂

What is in Your PSE Bucket? Wait, what IS a PSE Bucket?

It is a bucket of Positive Social Experiences.  PSEs are those that feel trusting, and safe.  They may be playful, loving, or even involve conflict that has led to better understanding and a closer, more respectful relationship.  PSEs are affirming of human goodness and contribute to our wellbeing and joie de vivre.  The more the better, right?

Now, it probably isn’t realistic to have all experiences be like this, right?  For most of us this being human involves some painful experiences like broken trust, unsafe situations or relationships,  unresolved conflict, grief, lost and so forth.

There is the not so positive social experience bucket too, (but I’m not going to give it an acronym!).

I love creating a safe environment for teaching improv and watching people play.  I am sure my endorphins get a boost.   With a few guidelines to follow there are lots of improv activities that are super fun to play.  And you don’t have to have any experience in acting or improv!  At PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, we take the focus off of performance and put it on the playful experience.  Some students have even called it “Divine Play”!

Next beginner class starts 4/28! Maybe you’ll join us?

Here’s my promise:  Take a PILL and add to your PSE Bucket or your money back!