York, ME – Holiday Mini-sessions for Family Photos

York, ME photographer, Heather Henriksen

Thursday Dec. 27th & Sunday Dec. 30 in York, Maine    2:30-4p.m     

Now is the time to grab your photo!  10 minutes is all you need.

Heather Henriksen Photography is offering mini-sessions for 2 dates only.  Capture your family  while you are home for the holidays.  


Email Heather to set up a time for your family to drop in for a quick and easy 10 min shoot – heatherhphotos@gmail.com

Heather has been a student in PILL classes and I can SO imagine her capturing sweet moments with your family this holiday season.

Learn more.

Jubilation Fantastically Fun Fitness Logo

Trust on the Dance Floor – Jubilation!

I’ve been taking Zumba classes at Jubilation in Portsmouth for years and I love it.  There are lots of things to love.  The music, the community of dancers, the space!  (The first class is always free btw.) The owner, Honore LaFlamme, creates a safe environment for all ages and abilities to enjoy dancing. You can get dressed up fancy for a workout or not. Just be you! And the people who go there are very welcoming!

One of the most profound things about my experience is about trust.

Beth Boynton and Honore LaFlamme after dancing at Jubilation
Beth and Honore after Class

In general, I admit, I don’t like people telling me what to do. Yet when I am dancing I’m totally glad to follow direction. It is a relief to not be in charge! It is really good for me to let that in!

This combination of dependence and trust seems remarkable. After all, you can have one without the other. Think about it how it might feel to be dependent on someone you don’t trust. And trusting someone you aren’t dependent on isn’t quite so profound or maybe risky, right?

When I experience both, I can literally feel my heart open up.  It is a wondrous feeling and I am grateful for it every single time.  I don’t have to be perfect or even close to it.  And it is also fine to be good at a particular step or routine.  

Do you know what I mean? Isn’t it great to follow someone when you feel this sense of trust?  

People having fun at Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab aka PILL

Help Nurses Combat Stress – Improv Class for Seacoast RNs & LPNs!

PILL – Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab is offering a single session improv class to help nurses combat stress! If you are a nurse or know a nurse,  would you please help spread the word? 

Nursing work is stressful.  There is unrelenting pressure to do high stakes work compassionately, quickly, and correctly.  Burnout, compassion fatigue, and workplace bullying add to the mix.  Over time, stress can zap the joy out of meaningful work.  

Helping nurses combat stress is super important and while improv for nurses may sound foreign, it is a fabulous way to relieve stress!  No acting or theater experience is necessary!  

Colorful and beautiful sky with balloons floating a PILL logo to advertise Stress Relief Improv for NURSES! :)
 Stress Relief PILL for NURSES!
With Beth Boynton, RN, MS Saturday, Jan 26, 2019 – 2:30 to 5:00 PM (EST)
@ PPMTV  280 Marcy St. – Portsmouth, NH
Learn more/register here or contact Beth
(603) 205-3509 –
Beth@bethboynton.com 
Cost $80 – 2.5 Contact Hours

As a teacher, one of my favorite things to do is to help get a room full of nurses laughing and playing together.  Seeing them have fun and get a break from their stressful work is very rewarding!  Try out this unusual program for yourself or bring one to your workplace!

WARNING! 

In addition to having fun, this PILL may cause positive side effects!

  • improve communication
  • Increase confidence
  • Boost immunity
  • Meet nice colleagues  

Medical Improv or improv for non actors is a fantastic way to improve communication and other ‘soft’ skills!  The experiences of speaking up and listening while building stories together allow nurses to practice important skills. Because the activities are fun and experiential, the learning sticks!

PILL logo with ice and snow

No one knew what would happen when they took the Arctic PILL! :)

In fact, no one was really planning on taking an Arctic PILL!  One very cold day in downtown Portsmouth, NH,  3 devoted PILL students came to class.  First Susan, then Kelly, then Jen.  It wasn’t long before they realized their dilemma. 

They were locked out of the building!

As the teacher, I felt a sense of panic when the app to get into PPMTV wasn’t working. 

In my head… Don’t worry.  Trust your students. Trust the process. Try the app again.

Everything will be fine. Try the app again!

After all this was a PILL improv class.  If anything in life can help you learn to roll with the unexpected, it is improv! 
PILL Improv Students and Teacher having fun despite getting locked out on a very cold day!

You know what?  Each woman was 100% supportive! Together  we said YES to the situation and started class outside.   

It was an awesome class. 

Neighbors told us we looked like we were having lots of fun! Later when we went in search for warmth and hot beverages, people at Cere’s Bakery told us we looked so happy.  And I think we livened up Breaking New Grounds with our silly and and love-filled energy!


Beth & Susan rapping like Mr. Mike?


We’ll be announcing winter PILL classes soon!  Please join us for some wacky-fun and loving-spirit times! 

Fortunately/Unfortunately – Hilarious Improv Take-Home Activity with a Resiliency Ripple

I love the games we play at PILL so much that I go home and get my family to play some of them during dinner.  Our favorite so far has been ‘Fortunately/Unfortunately’.  It’s hilarious and heart-warming to see us all, especially my teenage daughter getting into it, letting her hair down, being silly and having so much fun! -Kelly Hurd, M.Ed.
Reiki Practitioner, Yoga Teacher, Health & Lifestyle Coach, Wellness Educator
603 767-8622

(Scroll down to learn how to play Fortunately/Unfortunatlyl)

Thanks, Kelly!  I find it very exciting to hear how students of PILL- (Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab) bring activities home or to work.  Not long ago, another PILL student shared her story of bringing the Danish Clapping Game to a group of women she was working with in prison.  It was the first time she heard some of them laugh!  And visual art teacher, Rhonda Miller experimented with some improv with kids age 6-12 at a summer camp with great success.

The rippling effect of improv can be profound. Just imagine Kelly's daughter letting her hair down and their family playing together over a meal! Click To Tweet

I learned Fortunately/Unfortunately  at an improv for resilience workshop with Jude Treder-Wolff.  Jude is a creative arts psychotherapist, singer/songwriter and actress who creates and facilitates creativity-based workshops dealing with emotional intelligence, stress-resilience, burn-out prevention and all aspects of professional development. Her article,  Resilience Is Hope With “Muscle” — And Improvisation Training Is The Work-Out That Work is well-worth reading. In the piece she describes six ways that improv builds resilience.  For instance, “Generating supportive social experiences in which everyone can develop their capacity to respond to the unexpected and unpredictable in novel and useful ways that contribute to a rewarding creative process!”

So whether for fun or deeper learning, at home or at work, improv activities are a source of joy!

To Play Fortunately/Unfortunately

  1. Explain that you will go around in a circle and take turns with alternating phrases beginning with fortunately or unfortunately. Let your group know that they can make things up and should build on the story.
  2. If you have an odd number of people, each person will be able to build on the story with both positive and contrary mindsets.  If you have an even number, try two rounds and with second round start off with unfortunately first!
  3. Start with a statement that has some story-building potential like, “One day, (or ‘once upon a time’) I was driving to the store to pick up some groceries.”
  4. The next person should add to the story by starting with: fortunately.  For instance, “Fortunately, my children had made a shopping list for me.
  5. The next person adds to the story and starts with: unfortunately.  For instance, “Unfortunately, there the shopping list was mostly ice-cream and cake.
  6. And so on….
    • Fortunately, I found some string bean cake and broccoli ice-cream.
    • Unfortunately, when I got home my whole family made sour faces.
    • Fortunately, I decided to take the broccoli ice-cream to my neighbor as a gift.
  7. Continue to go around the circle creating the story for as long as it feels fun! Resist the urge to stop too soon as sometimes a little percolating time allows people to get more comfortable with the process.  This can lead to surprising twists!
    • Unfortunately, the ice-cream was melting all over me.
    • Fortunately…

Where this story goes is anybody’s guess. Maybe she’ll be covered with green sticky ice-cream and be mistaken for an alien who is captured and brought back to Mars!  In any case, every one will be part of the story’s creation!  A new shared experience, even if it is a silly one!

If you try it, let us know how it went!

Thankful for People of PILL!

Happy Thanksgiving to all the People of Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab – PILL!  You are such beautiful, loving, and divinely playful people.  I am grateful to each of you for trying something new and bringing your wondrous personalities and kind humanity to every class.

Each of you PILL people and the divine play of improv affirm the goodness and spirit of humanity! Click To Tweet

Over the past 2 plus years you have made me laugh, hysterically at times.  At PILL rubber bands and knitted socks come to life, shoes fly over kings in their thrones, eggplant and applesauce become mouth-watering delights, while eggplant and lemon juice a cure for gout.  Oh, and one little girl who was called to the principle’s office is forever etched in my heart.

You have inspired and influenced my improv teaching skills in a big way.  And some of you have provided video footage that has engaged healthcare professionals all over the USA and maybe abroad.  I even had the biggest blessing of having my son, Curran work with us in a filming session.  The video for the longest “Emotional Meeting”  is a teaching treasure trove and major personal joy.

I had extreme pleasure and much learning in our Stronger Together classes with Liz Korabek-Emerson.  I am grateful for our collaboration.

So thank you all for being part of PILL.

Don’t forget to do a little Danish Clapping today!

 

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!

“Holiday Meal” An Improv Activity with a Cornucopia of Rewards!

by Richard Oberbruner

“Holiday Meal”  

The actors sit in chairs around an imaginary square table (empty middle space). They each impersonate a family member from one of their actual holiday meals. It’s this simple. The mix of personalities will light up the scene!

There is one rule to get the scene started: Talk in order. Once each character is introduced, then multiple conversations typically take hold.

Just like a real holiday meal!

One actor begins speaking in-character. All other actors pay attention in their own way. The next actor to-the-right then gets speaking focus, and so on around the table. The next actor can continue the current topic or branch-off into another one. React naturally when it’s your turn. Let your character’s emotional state dictate what you say. Holiday meals can be emotional pressure cookers. Actors get to say on-stage what is typically not said in real life. Take advantage of this.

Once every character is introduced, the orderliness fades, replaced with a couple conversations going on simultaneously – just like a real holiday meal! Don’t let the menagerie bother you. This is a good challenge for actors to stay focused on who they are, as well as, reacting to what they hear.

At my recent improv class, one woman’s boyfriend wasn’t showing up “again.” This created gossip around the table. The little boy tired of all the “adult talk” hid underneath the table. The know-it-all lady next to him said “That kid needs to be on something. Give him his medicine.” All the actors were being real. No one was trying to be funny. The funny took care of itself thanks to the emotional investment it takes to portray a real person.

The ultimate objective to “Holiday Meal” is controlled chaos. Real people with real feelings reacting to real things. Click To Tweet

Does your character shy away in a busy setting or stick his/her nose in the action? Does he/she become louder, quieter, gossipy, appalled? It’s fun to lose yourself in a scene like this. Beginners can safely test a new idea. More experienced improvisers have a multitude of situations to react to. In either case, “Holiday Meal” creates realistic characters in the heat of the moment.

Learn more about Richard’s work as a Communications Coach at R.O.I Training. Improv is his communication tool. He conducts employee engagement sessions with corporations and non-profits nationwide.

https://www.buildingbrighterteams.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardimprov/

This Gifted Seacoast Illustrator is Also Very Funny!

After being told not to draw on the walls, Carolyn at age three, started doodling under windowsills and on the blank end papers of hard back books.  When these crayon creations started appearing under the toilet seat, her mom finally took the hint and gave her pens and paper to use. 

(See what I mean about being funny?)

Carolyn grew up in the Seacoast area and received her BFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. She has worked as a freelance illustrator for the past 34 years, including one year at Hallmark in Kansas City. After living in San Francisco & Seattle for 22 years, she finally moved back to Portsmouth in 2003. 

Carolyn creates illustrations for advertising, publishing, & products.  To learn more about her work check out her online portfolio.  I saw some familiar art like this Portsmouth, NH one, one for Market Square Day, and Barbara’s foods.

(See what I mean about being gifted?)

To find out more about her humor, check out this story when she played the Rogue Rubber Band at a recent PILL class and her website about page where she is intently playing monopoly with her cat! Well, someone’s cat.

To come and play some easy, safe, improv, check out the next entry-level Discover PILL class! Four Saturday afternoons 2:30-4:30p starts Nov 17th.  If you need to increase your joy experience during the holidays and current events, I highly recommend it! 🙂

 

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.