“…a story about how we begin to remember…”- Paul Simon

Listening to Under African Skies while driving under them with my son was an incredible privilege that moved me to tears.  And he too, felt something profound in the words and music from Paul Simon’s Graceland Album as we drove along our 2+ week journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein

What were we remembering?  Our connection? Joy in discovering together? Gratitude for our time?  Something deeply profound about humanity?

These are the roots of rhythm

And the roots of rhythm remain

I have learned so much on this journey and am so grateful.  I arrive home quite tired, yet with renewed commitment to teaching improv in a way that helps people tap into divine play with others. This too, is profound!

As we experience playing together in a safe and honoring environment we remember and celebrate our humanity!

Please consider signing up for a PILL class and dipping your toe into this safe, fun, joyful art! Visit us during our open house or check out upcoming classes!  And shoot me an email if you have questions! Bbbboynton@gmail.com

And it is a different song on the same LP, but hey…

We all will be received in Graceland!

Presenting the PILL Poster People of Portsmouth!

Beth Boynton, RN, MS & Liz Korabek-Emerson, MFA

Beth and Liz love teaching PILL classes! Sometimes serious, oft times silly, and always kind; it is no surprise that they have fun putting up PILL posters promoting classes and events.  Even on cold icy New England days! (We were very careful not to curtsey on icy areas! 🙂 )

This poster is going up at the RiverRun BookstoreThanks to all businesses in downtown Portsmouth, NH who have a community bulletin board! Click To Tweet If you see one without a PILL Poster please let us know! 🙂

 

Applied Improv & Trust! Glorious, Glorious Trust!

One of the differences between applied improv and improv comedy is that we take the focus off of performing and put it on the process of play.  One of the most fundamental and powerful parts of that process involves trust!

What does trust mean to you?

For me, it means feeling safe, respected, even loved,  along with a sense of ease in my body, mind, and soul.  Trusting someone means I can count on them to do what they say, give me a break for my imperfections, own their own part in a conflict, accept me, even celebrate me as I am…things like that. I’ve had some betrayals in life and don’t take these things for granted.  Insecurities and sensitivities are part of who I am.  Join the club, right?

Taking improv classes has been really helpful to me in exploring trust and having fun doing it.  The very principles of play support trusting relationships.  They do vary from teacher to teacher a little bit.  At Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, fondly referred to as PILL, we follow these principles and in parenthesis, (their relevance to trust).

PILL Principles of Improv 

  • “Yes and…” (This golden rule of improv ensures that players share responsibility for co-creating scenes and stories.  I learn that I can count on i.e. trust my partner!) 
  • Support your partner (I help others devlop trust as I am trustworthy.  I gain insight and experience into what trust looks and feels like.)
  • You have everything you need (Here I learn to trust myself to offer something of value while trusting my partner will make it work.)
  • Celebrate “mistakes” (It’s ok to be human!  YAY! I’m OK, you’re OK, we’re OK!)
  • Avoid questions (This one is a little harder to explain, but deep inside, there are times that I and others will ask questions to avoid fully participating in a relationship.  Avoiding them, for some people, means trusting themselves and others.)
  • Feel free to make things up (Actors already know this, but some people who are new to improv need permission to get out of their heads.  The pressure of being right or knowing something can be set aside.  I make something up trusting my partner will run with it giving me feedback that trusting is safe).
  • Observers play an important role (This gives people new to improv the freedom to not take a risk if they don’t feel safe. I learn to trust the teacher here and have control where I may need it. AND I can be helpful by watching and sharing insights.)

Despite difficulties broken trust situations have caused for me, these experiences have taught me to place a high value on trust and helped me to be sensitive to what others are experiencing.  It is part of how I continue to grow as a person.  And as a teacher to be more effective in creating a safe environment for students to take risks, play, and grow together.

You don’t have to have trust issues to enjoy or learn from PILL.  I don’t always feel trusting, but when I do it is indeed a glorious feeling.  Do you have experiences with trust in taking or teaching applied improv? What would you add?

Check upcoming PILL classes and open house.

Do You Nurture Your Playful Spirit?

I remember my father’s playful side.  Not often, but once in a while it came out! One example that comes to mind is when I was 12 or so and there was a hail storm going on outside.  He called to me exclaiming there were huge hailstones I should see!  So, I ran to the front door he was holding open and peeked onto the front lawn.  I immediately knew what he was talking about.  There were two big clumps of ice    sitting there….easily 10 times bigger than what I could see falling from the sky.

“WOW”, I said, excited to share this wondrous event with him.

A second later I noticed their shape and an instant after that I knew he had fooled me! Click To Tweet

There sat two ice cubes in the grass and behind me my father was trying not to laugh.  I love this memory of him.  Even thinking of it, I smile. In that moment of playfulness we were connected in a special way.  It felt safe, loving, and trusting,…even though I was being tricked.

And while sitting here working on this post at Profile Coffee Shop in Portsmouth, NH where they have all sorts of albums on display, another funny memory is triggered.  When my son was 10 or so, we often had music going on and we both enjoyed a wide variety; from Broadway hits, to Folk music, to Disco.  BUT, I had a Patsy Cline CD that he could not stand.  He would groan, beg for me to turn it off, or even do so himself. Then there was a spell of not listening to it. I couldn’t find it and forgot about it until reaching into the bookcase where he had carefully hidden it!  It was funny then and it is now thinking of it.  (So I just emailed him a photo of the album.  I bet he’ll smile too).

Play is integral in PILL classes and the more I teach and get feedback, the more obvious it is that people are grateful for opportunities to laugh and play together.  My friend and colleague, Liz Korabek-Emerson and I were talking about our class that combines mindfulness and improv.  We have come to realize that our success in this venture, (in addition to being commited and caring teachers), is that we are playful together.

What Sparks Your Playful Spirit?

Play is an important human experience and contributes to our health and wellbeing. Even neuroscience tells us that it is important for our brain!

Don’t miss the beautiful pics of dog and fawn in Neuroscientist, Jaak Panksepp’s TED Tx about the science of emotions and play!

So what can we do to nurture our playful spirit? Why not take a minute and reflect on our own human experience.  Do you enjoy playing with your children?  What about watching horses frolicking, a silly dog, a funny movie?  Take a moment to think of something that makes you smile.  How does it feel in this space of divine play when you experience, watch it, remember it happening? Connection? Presence? Safety? Joy?  Love?

For me, it is all of these in these moments with my dad and son and at PILL.  And the memories are powerful too! Seeking out experiences that make us laugh and smile is like eating healthy, exercising, and meditating.  Good for the body, mind, and soul, don’t you think?

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!