Portsmouth Community TV Station Funding Project Has Very Funny Video!

There’s only 4 days left for PPMTV to raise enough money to have the tech support they need to continue offering local and state programming!

Watch their video and you’ll see how desperate and creative the PPMTV Crew are!  LOL!  As they like to say, “It’s always something!”

They are getting really close to their goal and hoping this post will inspire you to check out their video, website, and even more importantly, make a donation.  One of their big offers is a $100 membership for a donation of $50!  I’ve been a member for 2 years and use their resources a lot!

Channel 98 on Comcast is where PPMtv lives – and the computer and program scheduling software that keeps PPMtv alive on Ch 98 is in desperate need of replacement. As of this writing, they need less than 2 grand!

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! 🙂

Progressive & Hopeful Vision about Aging at Extended Family

Not only do we have fun in PILL classes, we get to meet dynamic people who make their homes and businesses in the NH/ME seacoast. Barbara Trimble is one of the wonderful and intriguing people who are trying out classes at Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab-PILL!

In 2004, Barbara founded Extended Family.  Extended Family’s mission is to “help people age on their terms by offering premium services that promote independence, good health and engagement in life.”  Extended Family is more than a home service company, it is a lifetime membership. Members age at home, while receiving any type of services that they need or desire.  Evidenced-based programs built into the Extended Family model include Medication Management, Fall Prevention, Brain Wellness and Hospital Advocacy, and are designed to keep members active, independent and on their feet!  Quarterly metrics of Extended Family’s members are beginning to prove that their members fall less, maintain stronger minds, and report a higher quality of life.  And most importantly, never have to leave their home.

I so love her vision about growing older!

Aging does not have to be a long, slow downward slope.  Rather, with focus and effort, people can lead full and active lives until that “last day.”  Older adults need a plan, to manage any medical issues, to stay physically active, to maintain brain wellness, and to stay socially engaged.  By maintaining their dignity and zest for life, they will have a reason to get up every morning.–Barbara Trimblepresident and founder of Extended Family, LLC

We’ve had some spirited conversations about leadership in healthcare.  I think she would be awesome to work for. As you can tell in her vision statement, her philosophy is one of empowerment.  Empowerment of clients AND staff!

Curious about work at Extended Family?

Take a look at the expectations and see if you are inspired!


We expect our caregivers to be the best of the best, and sometimes this means going above and beyond! Candidates with a high level of professionalism, attention to detail, flexibility, great communication skills, openness to receive and accept feedback, and a desire to learn and grow are who we are looking for to join our team!

Working at EF is being part of something BIG.  You will make a difference in the lives of those you work with.  You will feel good at the end of your day. You will have access to education, social activities and our rewards and recognition program.  –Barbara Trimble



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!


Is it something personal?  Help keep programming going or at least check out fun PPMTV Kickstarter video!

Well, personally, I love PPMTV! They are helping me with filming project designed to make healthcare safer and more compassionate for patients, residents, and families and healthier to work in for nurses, doctors, etc

Last week, I was in San Francisco teaching Medical Improv to about 60 health risk managers.

Here I am with the group watching a video with seacoast PILL peeps Jody Fuller and Glenna Kimball doing an improv activity called Same Time Story.  It is a fun and effective way to teach empathic listening skills!  We need THAT in healthcare, don’t you think? Look closely and see how engaged the participants are!

Now PPMTV needs $$ for new programming stuff.  I threw in a few bucks and maybe you will too.  If you can.  And if not, please share this post and check out their fun video, “It’s Always Something!” What a crew!

Kickstarter Project to Help Keep PPMTV on the Air.  Please consider a donation to help replace their computer program and get some new software that makes all the programming possible.

Oh and next PILL classes start 4/28!

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7 Reasons Why I’m Excited about this Medical Improv Gig & Please Wish Me Luck!

Tomorrow morning I’l be on a flight from Boston to San Francisco where I’ll be presenting a day and a half workshop called, “Risk Management by Design:  Building a Practice of Trust”.   The workshop is designed to introduce Medical Improv as a teaching strategy. There will be 60 or so participants who are leaders in non-profit aging organizations such as; long term care and assisted living facilities, Hospice and Home Health.  They are nurses, attorneys, administrators, human resource representatives, insurance specialists, and maybe a few physicians and they are working very hard to keep residents safe.  Later in April I will present this same workshop in Chicago, and in May, Philadelphia.

MEDICAL IMPROV can help us in so many vital ways! The opportunity to bring this work forward in a big way is so very exciting.  Here’s why:

  1. Participants will experience 15 or more experiential activities designed to build skills associated with emotional intelligence, communication, teamwork and leadership.   Many people, when they have a chance to try this kind of improv discover that it is safe, fun, and effective.
  2. Many of them will be empowered to integrate activities into in-services, orientation processes, administrative and clinical meetings at their organizations.  This means that staff, management, and senior leaders will have fun opportunities to practice listening and speaking up etc. in an affordable way and on a regular basis. The rippling effect could be profound.
  3. Setting Realistic Expectations is a primary focus for my client and this alone suggests a desire to be honest, transparent, and respectful of all stake-holders. Improv, when facilitated to create a safe environment and framed with these learning objectives, is a powerful tool for developing self-awareness, building trust, and practicing the interpersonal skills necessary for these ideals.
  4. Being a pioneer in this emerging field is sometimes challenging because there are few signposts. This will put me on the map!
  5. All participants will get a copy of my book, “Medical Improv:  A New Way to Teach Communication”.  This means that when all is said and done over 200 professionals involved in patient safety will have copies.  I believe it is my best work and in addition to reenforcing activities, I make a strong case for why we need experiential learning and there is a great list of other resources.
  6. I will be able to invest some of my fee in the PILL(Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab) filming project with PPMTV and PILL students which is intended to provide an online resource for lesson plans and video bites of improv activities to help others teach activities.
  7. Last but not least, I get to have coffee with Dr. Candy Campbell after the workshop.  She is a nurse instructor at the University of San Francisco and improv teacher.  In fact she did her doctoral thesis on improv and communication skills for nurses.  She too is a pioneer and wrote the forward to my book.  We are going to have one dynamic cup of coffee!

I am grateful to all the students in PILL who teach me so much.

I know you are rooting for me and the work!

Oh and next PILL classes start 4/28!

What do the Portsmouth Inspiration Awards & Tom Rush Movie Have in Common?


They are both Spring Events at PPMTV-Portsmouth Public Media TV! 

I love PPMTV.  The people who run it and fund it.  The building itself has a creative vibe.  You never know what props you might find lying around.  It is where I teach most PILL improv classes, many with Liz Korabek of Korabek Training.  Yesterday we started a brand new pilot combining mindfulness and improv and there was a mannequin’s arm w/ a plastic cup attached to it’s hand.   We happily used it for an activity called “Props Freeze” where it became a kite, leash, and back-scratcher!  Who knew?

Anyways, PPMTV has some exciting Spring Events coming up!  Please help spread the word!

  • Inspiration Awards 4/19-where each year 3 individuals are recognized for their contributions to making the Portsmouth  area a stronger, more vibrant place to live and work.   You can learn more about this years inspiring Portsmouth peeps; Robin Alpert, Guy Capecelatro III, and Glicka Kaplan here!  Big thanks to each of you as you sure make the seacoast an awesome part of the world!
  • Meet and Greet-4/14-An opportunity to connect with the PPMTV community.  They are going to show the movie; Tom Rush:  No Regrets! NH’s own folksinger, songwriter, and guitarist  recalls his illustrious and unconventional career in this music-filled documentary.
  • Kickstarter Project to Help Keep PPMTV on the Air.  Please consider a donation to help replace their computer program and get some new software that makes all the programming possible.  Did you know that PPMtv is the only Public Access Television station serving the seacoast area of New Hampshire?

Read more about PPMTV Spring Events.

I’m grateful for the benefits I get as a member of PPMT including space to try out teaching new improv classes and invaluable expertise from Bill Humphreys and Chad Cordner for ongoing PILL filming project!

Oh and btw, I’m out of town for Inspiration Awards and have signed up for Meet and Greet.  See you there?

A Lifetime of Learning in 60 second Improv Game: Death in One Minute!

Sadly, my improv teacher, David LaGraffe, passed away suddenly a few months ago.  David was a gifted facilitator in creating a safe environment for taking risk, playing, and reflecting.

david lagraf

 I teach improv as an opening to the possibilities of one’s own genius.

–David LaGraffe 

I miss his teaching and am grateful for many fun and profound experiences over the years.  One of my fondest memories is from a few years ago when we did an activity called Death in One Minute.  Basically there are two participants who have 60 seconds to start and end a scene with one participant dying.

We were husband and wife on a boat.  We started the scene and within the first 10 seconds he fell to the floor and was dead. (Not really but for the scene!).  I raced to his rescue screaming and trying to revive him.  And I continued to try frantically for the remaining 50 seconds. (It felt like forever!)

In the debriefing that followed, he gently nudged me to think about other possibilities.

What else might I have done besides screaming?

  • “Free at last, the poison worked!’ I take out my cell phone ‘Jim, he’s gone.  Meet me in 20 minutes at the dock.  I’ll cover him with the tarp and you jump on.  I’ll need help with the body….”119px-(Woman_in_Hat_Rowing_a_Boat)_-_Google_Art_Project
  • “Poor David, he should have remembered his medications, but you know I was tired of reminding him.  All those years of cooking and cleaning for him….I’m sure I can make it to Greece and start the fine chocolate shoppe I’ve dreamed of…”
  • “Oh my, I’ve never tried driving this boat.”  I take the steering wheel and shifts sharply to the left and screams and falls while David rolls.  I over correct to the right….(for all I knew this may have revived him!)…
This place of opportunity and hesitancy is a very rich growing edge where I learn what holds me back Click To Tweet

In that 50 seconds, anything was possible.  But I had stayed in this mode of reaction rather than bring my own ideas forward. OMG!  I so get it now. And this place of opportunity and hesitancy is a very rich growing edge where I have and continue to learn what holds me back, to safely take more risk, and appreciate how hard it can be.  At the time, we laughed about the memory and this shared understanding about how deeply powerful this work can be.

Click To Tweet

Learn how theater education is being used to build ‘soft’ skills in healthcare!

How Would You Describe “Divine Play”?


What makes you smile inside and out?

  • Making sweet cooing noises and having a baby smile back at you?
  • Watching baby goats do their little jumping thing?
  • Seeing a dog on the beach throw a ball at her owner and prancing around insistently until he throws it?
  • Buying a gift for a dear friend that you KNOW she will love and then giving it to her?

These moments of joy are sacred, don’t you think?  Somehow we feel safe, trusting, and loved in them. I wonder if we are tapping into the divinity of the human spirit.  Something that is always there, but may be elusive at times.  It sure feels good!  We need to play and have an innate ability to.

Play, or Divine Play as we like to call it, is part of PILL improv.

Watch the facial expressions of Jody and Glenna as they play this very easy activity called ‘Same-Time-Story” And also watch the people watching them.  The delight is almost palpable.  

At PILL we make it a priority to create a safe environment for divine play and the community is incredibly supportive.  You don’t need to be an actor to play! Check out our classes or email your questions: bbbboynton@gmail.com.

If performing isn’t the goal of PILL improv, what is?

By Dwyer Leahy Vessey

Sometimes when I mention I’m going to Improv I get asked if I want to learn to “perform” improv…and I say – Improv is one of the only times that I don’t feel like I have to perform…I get to play.

And then I say “improv is like when you were a little kid and and you went outside to play with a friend and then another friend came by and the game changed into something new and then more kids showed up and you played outside until your mother whistled you home…that’s improv.”

If your curious to know what taking a PILL class is like, check out this slide show of a recent class. It might be hard to tell WHAT we are doing, but notice how much FUN we’re having doing it!

Check out this single session at York Adult & Community Education.