Portsmouth Fitness Leader Happy to Support Homelessness Fundraiser

Honore and her Mom, Andrea

I’ve been taking Zumba dance classes at Jubilation (where your first class is always FREE!) for years and love it.  The music, moves, and community fill me up in so many ways.

The owner, Honore LaFlamme has a big heart and when I asked about using the studio for a Back on My Feet fundraiser, she didn’t hesitate to say “Sure!”!

I believe in supporting nonprofit organizations when I can b/c they do so much for our community. Besides, the idea of helping homeless people get back on their feet with a jogging program sounds empowering!  —Honore LaFlamme

She’s also hosting a food drive that one of the other instructors,, Michelle Poulin organizes every Thanksgiving.

It is a great village!

There are all ages and abilities at Jubilation and all the instructors are fun and supportive!  Personally, I love being part of the older culture gravitating towards that back row!  There are quite a few of us boomers doing what we can, supporting each other, screaming on occasion, and welcoming new people.  Did I mention that the first class is always FREE?  And the schedule has options for everyone!

What’s the fundraiser about?

Lightening Larry

Lori Austin, a local social worker and student at PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, (among other things) is leading the fundraiser with her non-imposing, yet very inspiring alias Lightening Larry! 

The local event will take place on 2/24/18 and is part of Lori’s bigger fundraising plan.  We’ll share more about that soon, for now I just wanted to publicly thank Honore for helping and casually mention Larry’s, I mean Lori’s Back on My Feet crowdsource project!

Brene Brown Suggests “Show Up for Collective Moments of Joy & Pain”!

Professor, Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW is well known for her TED Talk, research, and writing on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. In her latest book,  “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone”, she makes the case that we are in a spiritual crisis and that “…the key to building a true belonging practice is maintaining our belief in inextricable human connection is to show up for collective moments of joy and pain”!

The idea of collective moments of joy is exactly what seems to be happening in PILL improv play and mindfulness exercises.  Playing, laughing, and meditating together builds trust and a sense of ease with others. As a teacher, (and I bet colleague Liz Korabek-Emerson would agree) this divine play is beautiful to watch!

Brown’s book is an enaging read with a call to action for each of us and she has a zero BS mindset.  There is so much chaos, fragmentation and sadly, violence in our world today that making it a priority to connect w/ compassion seems crucial.

“…true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity.”—Brene Brown

 

Help Lightening Larry Share Kindness & Empower Homeless People!

By Lori Austin, LCSW

So excited, once again to think about empowering those who struggle with homelessness to gain independence via RUNNING for Back on My Feet (BoMF).  

For me being an athlete throughout my whole life and running in my adult life has had enormous benefits.  It has kept me moving forward through my own personal traumas, losses and acceptance of my own illnesses. 

I have found grace and through this grace I can share it with others. Grace then comes back ten fold through service. I have never been homeless but I have struggled as most of us have in our lives.

It has taken me a long time to embrace who I am learning to love the struggle and my beautiful gifts. Growing up with illness around me as a little girl, coping with my own and facing losses of two brothers in adulthood taken too fast. Then seeing my beautiful parents leave this earth via cancer and Alzheimer’s.  I am where I am today through all of this.  The gift of international travel blessed me life in recent years as a social worker where I found a true voice after years of being a caretaker of my family members. 

Lightening Larry was born in England out of a joke with colleagues, (It was an accent thing with my name, Lori.  Has anyone seen Larry? Who is Larry?). He has come to represent a superhero sharing light and kindness to the world. 

It is a true honor and blessing to simply run and raise money for BoMF at the London Marathon in April 2018 where Lightening Larry can go back and spread light.

The volunteers of BoMF share their time with members at 5:30 am three times a week running to help them build confidence and move forward with their lives. After they make a commitment to themselves and BoMF, the runners gain access to job training and housing.  This occurs in 12 major cities in the United States.  I have chosen to run London Marathon which helps raise money for new chapters in new cities in the United States. Incredible!!

Please help support me as I am raising $7,500 plus.

Learn about the origins of BoMF here.

Help Plan a Joliday Holiday PILL Party?

I have the extreme good fortune of getting to know all PILL Peeps!  And what an awesome group of people you are! OMG!   Many of you know each other and I believe would love meeting those you don’t know yet. You are all so kind, lovable, and playful!!

One proactive PILL person , many of you know and love, Robin Masia (pronounced like Asia with an M) suggested I have a holiday PILL Party.   Doesn’t that sound great?  Thanks, Rockin’ Robin!  (Even though you will be traveling during the time!)

This will be a gift from PILL to all of you IF you help co-create it.  No charge, no annoying registration, no discussion about personal growth! 🙂

I can get space at PPMTV,  publicize and  facilitate some play.  I need help with all the other stuff like cups, food, drinks, decorations, pictures, cleaning up.  What else…?

If you’ve taken a PILL class you KNOW our capacity for joy is strong and true and healthy.  Even amidst all else the world presents.  Especially so!

It's our party and we'll laugh if we want to! -A POPULAR PILL PROVERB Click To Tweet

What are your thoughts?  Will you help?  Are any of you PILL Peeps also Party Planners?

What do you think of a Saturday afternoon?  Like say 12/2, 12/9, or 12/16? Or would a week-day early evening be better?  Like one of the Mondays (4, 11, 18th)?  

Use the comment section to respond publicly w/ ideas, questions, & offers to help!

And you can always reach me by email;  bbbboynton@gmail.com.

What is the most powerful language in all the world?

Gibberish!

In PILL classes we have lots of fun with Gibberish activities.

We played Gibberish Poet in a recent class and one of my students shared her observation that it was wonderful to see trust developing as one person spoke Gibberish and the other translated.  We heard poems about daisies, garbage, and much more.

When you think of it, most (about 90%) of our communication is going on without words, right?  So if we put the actual content aside, which we do in many Gibberish activities we get to focus on other things:

  • Trust
  • Attentive listening
  • Self-expression
  • Relationship-building

As fun and funny as Gibberish activities can be, the deeper transformations that can take place are quite profound. In the video below you can see a top BBC Journalist in an interview with artist, Alex Sternick.  Watch it for a few minutes and focus on all the ‘stuff’ going on between these two people that isn’t about words!  Let me know what you think!

 

 

Late Bird Special! Mindfulness Meets Improv Class-Stronger together!

Does this class sound interesting to you? We love to have you join us.

Stronger Together:  The Extra Strength PILL for Connecting with Fun & Presence?

There is still room in this unique workshop series that Liz Korabek-Emerson and I piloted over the summer!  It sounds weird, but combining these two practices is easy, fun, and sometimes….transformative.

We’ve already got enough signups to run the class and want to see if there are any more takers!

Soooooo….we’re offering a $10 savings to anyone who registers between now and Monday at 6p.  Don’t wait too long though b/c there is a limited # of spots open.

Register/learn more here and look for the Late Bird Ticket!

If you have questions, email me or liz:

Liz:  Korabek@comcast.net

Me: bbbboynton@gmail.com

 

What Makes Applied Improv an Effective Strategy for Preventing Violence?

Ask any teacher of applied improv this question and you’ll likely get a variety of similar answers with a diversity of examples and approaches.  Nevertheless, it is an important question to ask right now.

After all, we seem to be surrounded by devasting violent acts. Some tragedies are manmade like this week’s horrific shooting in Las Vegas.  Some are the results of mother nature, like hurricanes Irma and Maria.  And some are a combination; as with the current situation in Puerto Rico where hurricanes caused massive destruction and we have been slow to help.

I don’t think you get to be human and not experience some kind of suffering.  Yet, minimizing it for ourselves and others seems like a compassionate and purposeful mission.  I believe fiercely in this and that there is hope. Some of which lies with students and teachers of applied improv.

Why Applied Improv?

There are several compelling reasons. First, applied improv is a way to playfully practice and grow fundamental communication skills like listening and speaking up.  All activities help with at least one of these skills while the vast majority help with both. As we practice developing these skills we build the foundation that helps us to manage conflict, embrace diversity, and give and receive constructive feedback with respect and kindness.  These are the building blocks to healthy relationships even among people with different cultures, skin colors, sexuality, age, genders….etc.

Second, participants get to be imperfect and supported at the same time.  We celebrate mistakes in improv which allows us all to be human and stay connected.  While the games of improv can lead to silly, fictional stories like eggplant and applesauce recipes, nano-weights for muscle-building, or knitting book-covers by the millions, there is an underlying and profound sense of trust-building going on. This lets us take risks, try out new behaviors,  and share ideas.  In essence, the process helps us discover who we are and who we want to be.  Our best selves can emerge with authenticity and in friendship.

Third, we get to experience ‘divine play’.  Many will nod in understanding this concept in thinking of a baby playing with his or her food and making funny sounds, dogs chasing each other on a beach, or horses frolicking in a field. This spirit of playfulness is incredibly joyful and improv lets us experience it first hand.

Fourth, as we play together we share experiences that are often, but not always funny.  We also share moments of other emotions such as sadness or anger.  These shared experiences are bonding.  Most people want to care about others and be cared about.  As our world is erupting in chaos, the importance of creating spaces and opportunities for this cannot be understated.

Fifth, a point made by improv student and retired 2nd-grade teacher, Glenna Kimball, “Having time to play together gives us the strength to cope with everything else that is going on”.  This is important b/c getting stuck in despair would be easy to do these days, but not helpful.  Making joy a priority will help us stay the course.

Where can you find an applied improv class? 

I have two businesses that involve applied improv.  One is PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, where you’ll find basic classes and along with new projects like combining mindfulness and improv (with Korabek Training) and the upcoming version for young adults (with Project SparX out of Fireside Theatre in Newburyport, MA).  I also teach Medical Improv to healthcare professionals wherever I am invited to.  I have been as far away as Saudi Arabia!  The activities are the generally the same, but the framing involves improving critical outcomes such as patient safety, patient experience, and workforce health.

If you are an applied improv teacher, please feel free to post your related work with any links to it,  additional ideas and approaches you are using in the comment section of this blog.

Summary

Our abilities to cope with, respond to, engage in conflict about, and prevent violence all have roots in our abilities to form healthy and respectful relationships. Our social fabric may be wearing thin or unraveling, but applied improv classes can help.  And there are new teachers and approaches rising up all over the world!  Learn more at the Applied Improvisation Network.

 

 

 

 

Combining Improv and Mindfulness is Trending!

Improv and mindfulness?  Sounds kind of strange, yes?  And yet, what if we can practice being present with ourselves as well as each other?  Hmmmmmmm!

This summer Liz Korabek-Emerson and I launched Stronger Together, a 4-part workshop series where we combined meditation training with fundamental improv activities.   About 10 people jumped in to try out this seemingly weird combo where each week we had a theme for each session and started out with a warm-up activity followed by some meditation and then improv activities.

Some of the feedback we received:

  • I’m having so much fun, but it is hard to explain to my friends.
  • I’ve never felt this comfortable in a group!
  • I don’t want it to end.

And we had so much fun teaching, we are offering it again Monday evenings starting Oct 23rd at PPMTV in Portsmouth and you can learn more or register here.

Other mindfulness/improv resources include Ted DesMaison and Lisa Rowland’s series called Monster Baby Podcast and Liz’s blog series:

Mindfulness Meets Improvisation 

By Liz Korabek-Emerson

Part I: Listen and Respond (and Be Present)

Part II: Start Anywhere

Part III: Embrace Uncertainty

Part IV: Be Kind

Part V: Cultivate Generosity

At PILL we take the focus off of performance.  This helps make joyful improv activities available to anyone who wants to give them a try!

Enjoy “Gibberish Talk Show Host” for the Sheer Pleasure of Watching Humans Play!

Here is another fun video from the PILL filming project involving the Out of the PILLbox Players (OOPPs); Jody Fuller, Glenna Kimball, Liz Korabek-Emerson, Mary Ellen McElroy. Robin Masia, Corrie Owens-Beauchesne, Anita Remig, and Dwyer Vessey!  (You guys are amazing and I love you all!)

In “Gibberish Talk Show Host” adapted from Kate Koppet’s Training to Imagine, there is an interdependence of three people as they impact each others’ roles and build a “scene” together.

  • The Expert understands but does not speak English and doesn’t need to know anything about the topic.
  • The Translator can make up anything she wants while trying to stay in the spirit and tone expressed by the expert.
  • The Talk Show Host can guide the conversation with any combination of cues from the expert or translator.

Here Anita (Talk Show Host), Dwyer (Translator), and Mary Ellen (Gibberish Expert) take on the topic of-Horse-riding suggested by their peers. Meanwhile, the rest of us look on in supportive fascination and wondering…what will happen next? 🙂

While this activity is engaging and hilarious to watch, it can also be a powerful teaching tool to help nurses and doctors communicate better!

Next Discover PILL class starts 9/11/2017! Next Stronger Together class starts 10/23/2017!

And thanks to Chad Cordner for production support and with Colin McCarthy and Eddie Pimansone for manning the cameras!

 

 

 

How Delivering Pizza Led Me to a Spiritual Reunion that I Am SO Grateful For!

Most of my work these days is around developing, promoting, and teaching PILL classes in Portsmouth and Medical Improv at healthcare conferences and organizations all over the country.  I LOVE and am committed to this fun and transformative process!

Upcoming gigs:

But what does that have to do with pizza and spiritual events?

Well……sometimes it is good to step away from trying to make things happen and let them happen with a faith in some higher plane of wisdom, …maybe… right?  So this summer I toyed with some part-time ideas of bartending, nursing, and delivering pizza.  I wanted something low stress and different.  Bartending?  Maybe.  Nursing? No, part-time is too stressful.  Not enough staff typically and I’ve done 30 plus years of direct care.  I want something lighter.

Delivering pizza?  Seriously?

I had to struggle with my ego a bit.  After all, what is a nurse, author, and international speaker doing delivering pizza?  I know, it is a little weird, but that’s what I decided to do.  So a couple of times a week I put on my Papa Gino’s outfit and drive around the seacoast and deliver pizza.  The people I work with are from all over the world and very nice.  The scenery is nice, people getting pizza are usually in good spirits,  and for now,  I kinda like it.

And one day, I was surprised to see a vaguely familiar name on a delivery order that I was assigned to.  A relative of my ex sister-in-law, Susan who passed away a few years ago from colon cancer.  She had been divorced from my brother and due to complex family dynamics way outside the scope of this post, I had lost track of her.  And yet she was a very nurturing person in my life when I was growing up.   ( I think I met her when I was about 10 years old.)

To say the least, I loved her dearly and have fond memories of her and her family.

So, I took a deep breath in noting some anxiety taking the pizza over.  After all, I wasn’t really exactly sure who I was taking it to and what kind of feelings might be encountered given the old family dynamics and my, shall we say unusual role?

Well, Susan’s brother answered the door.  I remembered him immediately, gave him the pizza, and introduced myself saying how much I missed his sister.  He remembered me and without any hesitation invited me in to see his (and Susan’s) Mother.  OMG what a gift.  I remembered her and she, now elderly,  remembered me.   We hugged and both got teary.  She’s just as nurturing as Susan was!  When I was a little girl she AND Susan were wonderful beacons of love in my life.

Well, she wanted me to come back and her son said the door was always open.  I left with a full heart and promise to do so.  I even dropped by without my pizza garb for a longer visit last week.  I feel so joyful about this reconnection and opportunity to be part of her village at this point in her life and mine.

Crazy, right?  A Higher plane of wisdom, maybe….right?