PILL as Playful Learning around Portsmouth – PILL as Playful Teaching around the World!

Over 2 years ago a few people joined me to launch the Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab aka PILL!  Many, such as Joanne Hardin,  have been pleasantly surprised with their experience of improv  without a performance focus.

  • I had forgotten how to play and had so much fun!
  • I met such nice people!
  • I was nervous at first, but the instructors made it safe!
  • I learned how to be a better communicator!

BTW, We have a new beginners’ class starting Saturday afternoons 11/17/18 and would love to have you join us. (If the fee is a barrier, please email beth: bbbboynton@gmail.com)

AND a lot has happened since then!

In addition to many joyful moments in classes, potlucks, fundraisers, and holiday parties there are three pretty awesome things evolving from PILL that have local and global implications.

First, about 15 PILL students have participated in a filming project.  It is a project designed to get video footage that will help others see how fun, easy, and safe activities are.  And how they can be used to teach communication-related skills. These are held at PPMTV and are a blast. Pizza, T-shirts, and fun times are the rewards for participants and I get powerful video footage that I can use  as a nurse consultant.  I teach communication and emotional intelligence in healthcare and am very passionate about it b/c the skills help us provide better care and enjoy our work.  (We make way too many mistakes for our patients and suffer way too much burnout.)

Just last month an online article I wrote about Medical Improv included PILL videos and has gone over the world wide web.  Check it out here and please share with any healthcare professionals you know!

Second, one PILL student knew of and thought that we could be helpful to Friends Forever International, (FFI) a Durham, NH based organization that helps young adults from other countries learn skills and build relationships that will help them become leaders and promote peace!

Michael, Beth, Myan, Liz, & Clinton

Co-teacher, Liz Korabek-Emerson and I reached out, met with their programming director, and then had a second meeting with 3 of their Alums from Northern Ireland and Israel. In this second meeting, Liz and I learned about the improv workshop they were designing and offered some ideas to help them meet their objectives.  (There is an art to designing and facilitating safe, fun, and meaningful improv workshops and I don’t mind claiming, we are really good at it.)

We left that meeting feeling quite jazzed that our input would help them bridge relationships with 10 young adults, ( 5 Catholic & 5 Protestant)!  More to be revealed w/ FFI!

 

Third, Liz and I  also kicked off a community-building  retreat for Journey Song, an organization that works with Hospice and provides singing to folks who are dying. We designed a “Gods Must Be Crazy” session using our most popular formula of mindfulness and improv!

This is a great new way for businesses to offer fun and effective team-building!

The Gods Must Be Crazy was outstanding. I thought it would be good but it was much more than that. –JS Member

I loved 'The Gods Must Be Crazy'! They added a lot to the day & set the tone for the rest of the retreat. -JS Member Click To Tweet

Want to learn more?  Drop us a line!

Lessons about Perspective-taking and Empathy from a Rogue Rubber Band & Hand-knitted Pair of Socks!

Carolyn

Carolyn Vibbert, an illustrator and Kathy Pearce, a librarian are also PILL students (Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab).

Kathy

Oh, but that’s not all!

Carolyn was recently interviewed as the most memorable Rogue Rubber Band (RRB) followed by Kathy answering questions as the most endearing Hand-knitted Pair of Socks (H-kPoS) in our own version of the new hit podcast Everything is Alive!

I know, I know,  it sounds weird.  Yet, not only was it extremely fun to have them interview each other while they personified inanimate objects, both conversations were quite heartfelt.

Here are some highlights!

RRB shared stories from being in a war with other rubber bands.  She didn’t like that.  She also explained how some would put her on their wrist and snap her for some sort of behavior change and that kind of jazzed her up.  Then, in answering a question about being useful, she shared a poignant story of how one her friends who had a disability (was broken) and had been wrapped around a pile of papers and secured with a piece of tape.

H-kPoS shared what it was like to go through the washing machine, scary at first, but ultimately fun. (It was her favorite day of the week as I recall, emerging all fresh and clean).  She also described a difficult time in her life when she was separated from her mate having been trapped in a pant leg and put away for the season.  Oh but what a joy it was when they found each other again! And she wasn’t worried about aging and getting worn b/c becoming a puppet or even cleaning rag offered promises of vitality.

After our class that evening I thought about the experience a lot! I realized that it could be a fun and safe way to build empathy and practice perspective-taking.  I mean, if we can let ourselves think and feel what someTHING else’s experience might be, just maybe it could be a fun, safe step in exploring what someONE else might be thinking or feeling.

Perspective-taking and empathy are critical relationship skills that help us listen, learn, and navigate conflict. Click To Tweet

Powerful skills for today’s world, right? Skills that require safe practice b/c they are not easy to develop, especially if we are feeling vulnerable.

Facilitated improv classes are fun, safe, and sometimes, transformative!

Next entry level Discover PILL class starts Saturday afternoon 11/17/18.

“Collaborative Arts” A new series to learn and practice how to work collaboratively to catalyze change!

Drawing from the ARTS to bring the best out in individuals, communities and businesses holds much promise for humanity and the seacoast is rich with resources!

I recently met consultant, Beth Tener through colleague Liz Korabek-Emerson.  Beth participated in our recent mindfulness and improv PILL class and was a delight to work and play with!

She is doing some exciting workshops at the beautiful Seacoast Science Center and I can’t wait to go to the ecosystem one she is offering.  Perfect location, right?  She just completed the first of three sessions and it was a great success, (THE ART OF DESIGNING MEETINGS THAT DO MORE)!

Here is a little about Beth and upcoming workshops!  (You can go to one or both even if you missed the first one!)

Beth is the Principal of New Directions Collaborative, is a facilitator and strategy coach who works with collaborative initiatives that bring together business, government, and the social sector to address complex challenges, such as transitioning to a clean energy economy and revitalizing communities.

THE ART OF WORKING IN COLLABORATIVE WAYS

Monday, October 29, 2018
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Given the complex inter-related challenges our communities and organizations face, it is becoming imperative to work across disciplines, organizations, and cultures to develop workable solutions. Learn more and register here.

THE ART OF WORKING AS AN ECOSYSTEM

Thursday, November 29, 2018
1:00PM – 4:00PM EDT

Activating the full potential within an organization, community, or network requires us to see how our work fits into a larger whole and how we can connect what are often fragmented “parts.” Some wisdom, collective strength, and innovative solutions can only be activated when we engage and connect all parts of an organization, community, or system. Learn more and register here.

Thanks for enriching our community, Beth.

Friends Forever International-Did you know about this cool organization in our backyard?

Right off of Rte 4 in Durham! You have to admit this is pretty exciting work.  Hopeful work. 

Their MISSION:

Friends Forever International empowers youth leaders to connect, strengthen, and serve communities around the globe by combining their passion to make the world a better place with the skills, experiences, and resources required to do so.  Learn more about the awesome work FFI is doing.

Their GOAL

Every young person who desires, regardless of ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, and ability will have the opportunity to build their leadership skills beyond what they imagined possible before participating in the program. These young leaders will transform the way that they see the world and realize that they can change the world for the better. Now.

How did this get on the PILL radar you ask?

Word of mouth always involves relationships and stories. That’s why when PILL student, Joanne Hardin suggested that Liz Korabek-Emerson and I reach out to FFI leadership, we did.  She had just completed our mindfulness and improv class, Stronger Together and in addition to her testimonial, felt our work might be of interest to this organization.  (She knows of FFI from a close friend.)

Front to back Chelsea, Beth, Liz!

Long story short, we reached out and were invited to connect. Liz and I met with Chelsea Fitton, Sr. Program and Community Engagement Manager recently.  As you can see we had an inspiring meeting.  And we hope to go back and talk more with their alumni trainers soon.  Thinking just maybe some mindfulness and improv might be helpful! 🙂

Lots of hopeful stuff going on in the world despite all the chaos!  Thanks, Joanne!

Medical Improv & How I Got into It in WAY FUN Podcast w/ Margot Escott, LCSW!

Hey Friends of PILL, ‘Out of the PILLbox Players’, and friends and colleagues of yours truly! Please put this podcast on your radar to listen to and share. I loved talking with Margot about improv work locally and nationally.  Margot’s questions and listening helped me to articulate my beliefs and wisdoms with a sense of confidence, enthusiasm, and spiritual focus that feels so authentic.

Lot’s of fun topics and mentions (my son and his work, history of me and med improv, using the word improv in teaching pros and cons, AIN conference coming up in NYC, love, listening, empathy, and more….)

Podcast: Beth Boynton & Medical Improv

Hope you enjoy, happy for feedback, and most of all, THANK YOU!

Margot’s podcast series is focused on Improv for Therapists and I’m jazzed to listen to others and follow this series. She is a social worker in Florida and is doing some wonderful work using improv for caregivers and folks who live with Parkinson’s.

Oh and PILL classes coming up soon!

 

Margot Escott, LCSW & Beth Boynton, RN, MS - inspiring conversation @ Medical Improv on 25 min podcast! Click To Tweet

What Would a Kavanaugh Apology to Ford Look Like? And in What World?

I believe Christine Blassey-Ford’s account of Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. I am open to learning new information that suggests otherwise.

I also believe a healthier world is possible!

One where all people are of equal value, have the skills to communicate respectfully and share power in relationships.  Mutuality and boundaries will vary, but respect will be constant.

In order to create such a world, we need a vision of what it might look like along with effective ways to develop ‘soft’ skills like self-reflection, ownership, perspective-taking, attentive listening, and empathy. These are hard skills to practice because they require emotional maturity, behavioral change, a culture that supports them, and safe opportunities to practice with others. I’ve learned a lot of these kinds of skills through individual work in therapy and playing with others in improv classes.

For one minute, just one minute, consider a universe where Judge Kavanaugh apologizes to Dr. Ford. Click To Tweet

A parallel planet somewhere where humans are more evolved than we are right now. Here, Brett Kavanaugh has gained insight into his own emotional injuries and alcohol use through psycotherapy and Alcoholics Anonymous. He has come to realize he has hurt many people in his life and wants to make amends. He pieces together memories and admits to himself, his therapist and  his wife that he assaulted Christine Blassey-Ford when they were in High School.

He is learning how to express himself and listen more respectfully in therapy.  He is taking applied improv classes to help him to practice . With support of his therapist and wife he has decided to contact Dr. Ford and to admit his behavior and apologize.   He knows must take this step if he is to be a healthy husband, father, and Judge.

Kavanaugh writes a letter.

Dear Dr. Ford,

I am writing to you today with a heavy heart and a great deal of shame.  I am sure you remember, probably better than I do, that day when I assaulted you in a bedroom at that party in the summer of 1982.  Mark Judge was there and we were both very drunk.  We were laughing when I pinned you on the bed, groping you and trying to take off your clothes with one hand and covering your mouth to keep you from screaming with the other.  I can’t remember how you got away and can only imagine how scared you must have been.  You were younger and smaller than me.  It must have been terrifying for you and I am so so sorry.  I can’t begin to imagine the physical and emotional pain I caused you.

If there is anything I can do to help decrease the pain I must have caused and may still be causing today, I want to try.  I will answer any questions you have and try to help you understand my horrific behavior as I have come to in therapy.   I will listen if there is a way that feels safe to you.  With police, your husband, or any support you need present? Or read anything that you would want to share.  I don’t know if you can ever forgive me. I terrorized you and will understand if you do not want to interact with me in any way. I do know that I will work very hard to earn some kind of forgiveness. I am afraid of a criminal complaint, but if you decided to file one, I won’t fight it.  I have two daughters and as father I cannot fathom how something like what I did to you might impact them.

Words are not enough for the remorse I feel about what I did to you.

Brett Kavanaugh

I don't know what Dr. Ford's response to such a letter would be, but it could be a path towards healing for everyone. Click To Tweet

Sigh….human evolution is a slow process!

And to those of us involved in furthering the efforts of applied improv and  other ways of nurturing humanity, let’s keep going! Fight for truth and justice here and now, take care of ourselves, and contribute to a healthier world whenever we can!

Where can you get True Blue Seaglass Jewelry & Wave Rings? REALLY Real Seaglass?

Seaglass is a real word no matter what spellcheck says! And it is only real if the sea has rolled it around, smoothed it out, and left it on a beach somewhere. And Jori Ami has been collecting it for years on beaches far and near.

Jori is the owner of True Blue Seaglass!  She’ll be at the Marketfest on Saturday 9/22/18 in York, Maine with lots of unique and lovely earrings, bracelets, toe-rings, and more! Collecting seaglass and turning it into beautiful jewelry is a spiritual experience for Jori. She collects and crafts each piece with a vision, artistry, and love!

I’m going so I can say “Hi” AND get more silver wave rings.  To create a ripple effect on my hand.   Sort of like the double decker waves here. Can you envision one on each finger?

Check out all the vendors and activities at Marketfest York!

And please, pray for surf!

 

Envision a face saying “Ewwwww”: How nonverbal language can build trust, even with folks with dementia!

Among other things like creating opportunities for divine play and meeting nice people, Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab (PILL) offers classes that help participants tune into nonverbal communication. Keeping in mind that 80-90 % of our communication takes place in this realm, increased awareness of and facility with sending and receiving nonverbal messages can help us with all of our relationships.

Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts! --Albert Einstein Click To Tweet

What I communicate nonverbally is important in building trust and safety with students and one way to describe what I mean is to share an example that comes from working as an RN in a long term care facility a few years ago.  Here I was a Charge Nurse for two secure (locked) units where folks with moderate to severe dementia lived.

One of my tasks was giving medication to people who couldn’t swallow pills and so certain medications would be crushed and mixed with something that was easier and hopefully more enjoyable to swallow, like applesauce or for some, even better, ice-cream.  Even so, sometimes, residents would

make a face that told me the experience was gross!

In this moment, I would take a minute to respond to their nonverbal message.  “Oh that didn’t taste very good did it?  I’m sorry!”   I don’t think that my words were understood, but I believe most of my patients sensed the sincerity and compassion conveyed in my facial expression, tone, and other body language.

Please consider joining us for our next PILL class which starts 9/26!  Liz Korabek-Emerson and I will begin our 5th session of our Stronger Together class where we combine mindfulness and improv for a unique and fun experience!

Creating an environment where people feel safe is essential for facilitating positive experiences and learning as recently described by Joanne Hardin in this testimonial.

How Miles Burns & this PAPA Camp Nurse Helped One Little Kid This Summer!

(This quick story unfolds as I was in my role as PAPA camp RN and Miles in his as Artistic Director of Seacoast Rep).

“Hey Miles’, I said outside the Pierce Camp Birchmont Infirmary, ‘do you have a minute to talk about Sally?” (I’m changing details to protect privacy etc.”)

“Sure,’ said Miles, what’s going on?”

She is having a hard time connecting with other kids.  Some of it is probably due to physical limitations, but maybe some other stuff going on too.  He nodded, sensing what I meant.  Is there a way to include her in one of the talent shows that will be doable for her physically?

“Hmmmm…sure, let me think”, said Miles.

Less than an hour later I was walking down the hill with Sally. Rehearsals by various groups were going on.

“Hey Sally, Miles booming voice caught our attention, would you be willing to help us with this skit for the show tomorrow?  We need someone to walk on and look sad about kids not invited to a dance.  It might involve one or two lines.  It is a short part and would be really helpful.”

Sally looked up at me and then to Miles who went on to explain that they needed someone to play an important and quick part that she would be perfect for.

We walked closer to the small group. She, hesitated and looked to me, I think for encouragement as one who knew her physical limitations well.  I wanted to gently nudge, but not push her and shrugged my shoulders saying something like, “it’s up to you.  Might be worth a try?”

Miles, perhaps sensing Sally’s hesitation, “Why not come on over and help us try out the idea?”

“Okay, can’t hurt to try”. And she went over.  I walked away thinking, THANK YOU MILES.  Thank you for making this one little kid’s experience a priority.  And for using your creative thinking and compassion to do it.

Now, I also know that after a little while Sally decided not to participate in the skit.  And I guess we have to let go of that.  Yet still, the value of being included and choosing not to continue might be important experiences for Sally.  I hope so.

I bet Miles hopes so too.

Quite frankly the whole PAPA camp crew was a pleasure to work with because of the shared ideals about acceptance and inclusion.

I join the many others as part of the SRT family in being shocked and saddened that he has been terminated from his job. Something seems very wrong here.  This Friday, 9/14 at 7pm outside Seacoast Rep there will be a rally in support of Miles being reinstated. People are asked to wear PAPA shirts if you’ve got them. Make signs and spread the word.  I’ll be there.

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. --Albert Eintstein Click To Tweet