Improvisation is a Divine Love Thing

July 25, 2011

I spent the weekend in New Mexico with Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault learning about soul-stirring, heart opening, divine love in real people. How we find the real deal.

In ancient practice three actions lead to Great Love. 1) Let go. 2) Deeply welcome life. 3) In singular fullness, unite with self, other, all.

It hit me. Improvisation is the discipline of letting go. And, it’s hardest when we’re scared, stressed, or upset. In other words, most of the time.

But an improviser loves to play with life and ride it into the big “YES!”  An improviser will gladly flop if the payoff leads to making love with creation. This is why InterPlay is my playground, discipline, and where I feast on love for life.

Clinging is the opposite of letting go.  I need both dynamics to be human, but to get to Love, InterPlay sets up practices that build confidence in the flow of our own voice, moves, stories, connection, and self understanding. Incrementality!

Adult play gives us a “safe enough” place to follow and go with the materials of experience until we can do it for longer periods with all we encounter, even death. We discover we are alive, powerful, and that we are having fun!

In community we get strong enough to merge with a greater field that helps our social body heal from the bumps of daily life. What does this look like? A dance. A song. Drumming. A community sharing the quiet. When we point toward Something Bigger we touch ecstasy. Peace, joy, hope, laughter, tears return.

What is your discipline for letting go? Do you practice as a mover, a teller, a person with voice, breath and stillness?  Is it fun?

What if peace-making required more lovers and fewer problem solvers? Would you know how to play into love?

Are you ready for the disciplines of this strange age: learning to improvise and love? Come InterPlay! Maybe you are called to come learn lead it!

Don’t tell Mom I’m just playing?

May 8, 2011

Don’t tell Mom that I’ve gone public with my testimony about her brave, beautiful journey of dancing with Alzheimer’s on my other blog, Mystic Tech. Here’s the link. I’m proud that InterPlay offers ways to uplift our community members who suffer with dementia, depression, and other d words. We’re more than a disease, we’re dancers.

Don’t tell Mom that little by little I’ve learned that I don’t have to work so hard. Mom works hard even with Alzheimer’s. Nap? Naaaaaa. Fortunately, she always told me to do what I love. Thanks Mom! I am working on it!

Don’t tell Mom that I broke the secret pact that gives her dibs on being the only good cook in our family. Turns out that I wrote a cookbook for the heart, What the Body Wants: InterPlay. It’s full of recipes for the secret sauce, chewy morsels, and creamy centers of life. O.K., it’s not an actual cookbook. I’ll never cook a meal like you, Mom.

Don’t tell Mom about the other Mother’s: Mother Earth, the Great Mother of us all, Mother Death, and the Mom in me. Tell her, though, that She Alone is mother of my dancing heart. I love you Mom.

I wish I could tell Mom

• that InterPlay got a $25,000 county grant for innovations in mental health to work with Homeless Seniors and how Phil is leading the team that is offering that program through 2012.

•  that I am off to England to lead the first Arts and Social Change: Secrets of InterPlay and that my sister and I get to visit her ancestor’s villages.

• about meeting and mentoring young artists from the US, Australia, India, South America, and Rwanda who are signing up for InterPlay’s Arts and Social Change Next Gen program

or that granddaughter #1 got her first paid gig as a makeup and hair artist, and that granddaughters #2 and #3 are equally gorgeous, smart and about to graduate from 9th and 12th grade.

Mom would probably nonchalantly say, “As long as you’re all happy,” cuz a good mom knows she did her job if her offspring find happiness.

I AM HAPPY with a plus sign. I AM AWAKE, ALIVE, LOVED and AN ARTIST, teaching others how to play, find ease, and create a good life. Thanks, Mom(s)!

Be each other’s healthcare

December 21, 2009

Play like you mean it! Life depends on it.

On Friday, twenty of us set a rhythm with feet, one step right and one step left. Over the beat, we spoke desires and concerns. That’s when Nika said, “Be each other’s health care.” What a beacon in the midst of US health care wars and the Copenhagen Climate Summit.

As an artist, family member, and teacher, I’m dedicated to health in body and soul. Meanwhile, my husband’s outpatient surgery, Mom’s Alzheimer’s, my athletic dad’s pacemaker, my siblings tussles with stress from success at work, and my communities’ big waves of disease and depression, I know I am one of the lucky ones. I have health care.

“Be each other’s health care.”

You are my body. Frank Forenich states in “No Body is an Island”, our health is profoundly extrasomatic or beyond the body… Emotions are not just experienced by individuals, but shared, unconsciously and unintentionally, across social groups… and so-called “non-communicable” or “lifestyle” diseases may in fact be “spread” through social networks, influence and mimicked behavior. To say that heart disease, diabetes and obesity are matters of “lifestyle” misses the point because lifestyle itself is highly contagious. An enormous percentage of our health and disease is “catching,” one way or the other.”

InterPlay and Body Wisdom, Inc. arose because Phil and I realized that modern thought, language and practice dismiss the creative, curative power of total physicality. Treating the body as an abstract problem to fix reduces health, joy, ideas, and love in individuals and groups. Nations? Yes. When the poor are ill, I am ill. When a prisoner is tortured, it comes back. When I treat earth as abstract, I become abstract. Connectedness is a fact. Our health depends on each other.

So here’s a little Rx for being each other’s health care:

Look for good: Something good crosses your path? Savor and pass it on like multivitamin.

Affirm. Praise others randomly, especially at home. Humans expect chaos. Random praise disrupts theories of suffering and reminds us of life’s benevolence.

Play like you mean it: Step over speed bumps of self-consciousness. “Out” your playfulness once a day. music, dance, word, food, doodle, silence, sport, games, make faces, wear costumes.. Embodying permission to play encourages the play genes elsewhere.

Forgive like a 7 year old: Dogs do it, so do second graders. Relax complaint. Get over “shoulda’s.” Move on. When someone can’t play nice, let them be.

Bring soup, hold hands: When things get real bad, showing up for 5 minutes or more if needed counts.

Hard to get over speed bumps, reactivate play, affirm body wisdom, or show up to beauty and health? Maybe, you are trying to do it alone. Don’t!

Check yourself into an InterPlay life practice program: multiple sessions in friendly groups with great leaders. Life changing, world changing health connections!

“…civilized human beings are alarmingly ignorant of the fact that they are continuous with their natural surroundings. It is as necessary to have air, water, plants, insects, birds, fish and mammals as it is to have brains, hearts, lungs and stomachs. The former are our external organs in the same way the latter are our internal organs.” Alan Watts -Does it Matter

Despair as Liberator

November 17, 2009

Photo by Don Moseman

Like a lot of non-profit visionary leaders, I’ve been having “a moment.” The economic downturn, changes in the game, it’s having its way with me. One friend literally dreamt of two twisters headed toward a house of InterPlayers AND a plane crashing into the nearby woods AND the house slipping off its foundations into a nearby field. (I think it was intact).

I have few moments of real despair. How lucky is that? But as a non-profit visionary leader, “NPVL,” I recently experienced a big lurch of DESPAIR. Different from depression, despair is that  unmovable well of powerlessness. The gap between one’s vision and the needed resources can look like a chasm. The body does not like this (understatement). Anytime we hit a big UH-OH where we sense failure, doom, gloom, fatigue or hopelessness, the right brain goes crazy. The left brain gets super serious. Our fightin’, flightin’ amygdala and all her little evil twins jump up and down, scream, stab at things, and lose it. (Fortunately, all InterPlay possibilities).

Thank heaven I have more than a right brain or reptilian brain! I’ve got a whole brain, incredible tools, a GREAT community of practice and the special ingredient….a relationship with a higher (HELLO ARE YOU THERE?) Power… (oh, there you are…). Even with tools, FEAR and DESPAIR refuse no dancers. They got me. A pain stabbed my chest.

“Can it be so bad?” I asked. Checking things out with others, they answered back, “Yeah. Hard here too.” Reassuring, but the stab persisted. When it awoke me at 3:30 AM, I went to the altar of Google and entered DESPAIR. Despair, Inc: Demotivation posters appeared, the evil twin version of those corporate posters with motivational sayings. Finding the one on DESPAIR, it said, “It’s always darkest before it turns pitch black!” The laugh that erupted in me was the kind closest to tears. Hysteria? Relief? Truth!  Don’t ask me why pitch black was liberating or funny, but the fear bubble popped when I saw the light, also known as the pitch black. I had no other choice but to release my dread. Wheeeeeee.

Back at the ranch, the InterPlay team is in action using tools, connections and great body wisdom awareness to bridge the chasm. Lucky!

I attended the Applied Improvisation Network Conference in Portland, taught and connected with incredible people who, like me and you, are committed to applying the power of human creativity, interaction, and playful engagement. Perhaps you’ll connect with them too. Lucky!

I got to help launch the first gathering of the Portland InterPlay community, rounded up by Cassandra Sagan. Lucky!

I am strategizing ways InterPlay can move more of us from “I” to “We” in healthy, resourceful ways. Lucky!

I am planting seeds for greater multicultural and global InterPlay connections. Lucky!

I am hoeing the row for a garden where we can mentor 18-25 year olds. Lucky!

Besides all of this I am guided to Listen as much as possible. And to increase my gratitude and affirmation. And always always, to take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.

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