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)!


InterPlay Serves K Through Grad School

May 17, 2010

My daughter was in the first generation of online kids. By middle school her teachers didn’t know what to do. These kids needed to talk. They were hard to keep “on subject.”One thing at a time was tedious for multimedia, multisensory learners. The principal called them the generation the least likely to succeed. Flooded with empathy and stress from being on the phone and online, they were also overwhelmed. Personally, I think they were adapting to the world wide web. Were they victims or pioneers?

Times have changed, but what about education? How do we better connect to subject matter and each other?  Can teachers support healthy spontaneity in the classroom, the essence of curiosity and learning? Can students ask real questions? Can younger and older learners move past “be quiet and stay in your seat” practices to creative self-abandonment-the genius of youth? Can educators and students be embodied learners? Can InterPlay be of service? Yes. Excitement builds as teachers incorporate InterPlay in classes..

Joy Hodges, elementary school teacher, helps kids get a running start on projects by using InterPlay. Watch her describe it here.

Diane Rawlinson, high school teacher, watches it ripple through her student body as she teaches youth how to witness and affirm one another:
Unbelievable response to the Interplay workshops at the National HS Dance Festival..Wow…talk about freeing for them, especially those from fine arts schools who are so used to traditional training. The festival had over 1,500 students from over 100 public, magnet, and fine arts schools in the US, Canada, and Australia. They were able to create a non-judgemental community in a very short time, with dancers who are primarily used to being judged and corrected throughout their training. Seeds have been planted in a new generation of teens not from Wheeling!!!!

Gretchen Wegner, master educator, uses InterPlayful body-based inquiry for graduate level work. Read her journal article “The Role of Improvisation and Imagination in Accessing Body-Based Ways of Knowing.”

Sybil MacBeth, “who can’t paint a cat” uses InterPlay in religious education to teach kids to pray. Watch a video here.

Embodied cognition is a growing area of study. (Thanks Arthur)

InterPlay is at lab with a working methodology. Spread the word. InterPlay to learn. Learn to interplay.


Stressed Bodies Don’t Learn: InterPlay in Education

March 8, 2010

I’m enjoying a yahoo discussion group on mindfulness in education. Professors are asking each other, “WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY DO IN THE CLASSROOM?” It seems that teachers literally use meditation and mindflness to work with students to be present, renew focus, reduce stress, learn through a more spacious physicality, and apply their learnings to their fields of study. Simply put, “Stressed bodies don’t learn.” And stress is quite a problem for students, educators, employers and employees these days.

In InterPlay, we’ve found that by emphasizing the play factor we see greater access to conection, ease, and energy. Over-efforting often fails us. Many of us are “recovering serious people” who no longer choose to sustain the out of reach expectations we had for ourselves or others. Shifting to simple practices like easy focus, noticing, taking deep breaths and letting them out with a sigh, and focusing on the physicality of grace (people places and activities that create energy), we gain easier, balanced, more joyful paths for study, life, and work. Wonder of wonders, it turns out that embodying these qualities are optimal for success. We became easier to be around. We attract learning.

Beyond the ease factor, when we widen out the behavioral path to learning, new insights spring forth! Book learning and lectures, while crucial, are slower, more mono-focused forms with limited access to diverse kinds of data. By adding other “forms” of activity we discover information inside and around us that can’t be reached or known in ANY OTHER FORM. For instance, you can only activate knowledge received in dance through movement (Susanne Langer calls movement a ” virtual realm of power.”) You can only draw on the learning implicit in story telling (history for instance) through stories. Dance can’t do that. Forms like dance and story can overlap, but they don’t replace each other’s data base. (Thank you Susanne Langer- Feeling and Form.)

A complete education would give students practical ways (ways that don’t require extraordinary talent)  to learn from diverse systems in their own body (their own body of knowledge). Different than learning to perform dance, or sing, or paint, or do drama, InterPlay grants access to five data bases of learning: MOVEMENT, VOICE/BREATH, WORDS, CONNECTIONS, and STILLNESS/BEING. Playing with InterPlay’s building blocks in each area, people around the world are harnassing and changing their energy, embracing creative exploration, releasing old patterns, coalescing new insights, building learning communities, and applying these learnings to their fields of endeavor.

If a computer program could be programmed to increase our knowledge by dancing don’t you think that we’d equip computers to dance? If we could develop computer programs that could move ideas, emotions, blockages, and even wider patterns of energy in the world, wouldn’t we?  So far only humans can activate the organic neurological, chemical fields of knowledge. Movement, voice, words, stillness, and connection are more than sensors. They are keys that unlock information to a wider web, the wisdom of the matter and energy (the body) in which we participate. Our ancestors had an intimate connection to this web. Similarly, InterPlay is helping people reconnect to embodied avenues of inquiry by staying simple and opening the door to diverse experiences.

Embodiment is not mindless or difficult. A human body is like a needle. Cognition is the eye of the needle and our ever changing experience is the thread. Cognitively aware and choiceful in mindbodyheartspirt thought and reflection is a vital aspect of embodiment as we sew the next pattern and create our life.

The simple tools of InterPlay are opening doors to learn about self, others, and the world. Students at all lifestages discover that they know things and want to share their knowledge in fresh, exciting ways that stimulate the curiousity of peers. Even more remarkable? This can happen in a matter of hours or days. Professor Diana Trotter marveled at athletes and other students when she used InterPlay in her January session public speaking class. InterPlay made a lot more than public speaking possible! Watch this video of Diana speaking about her class.

Stressed bodies don’t learn. But neither do bored bodies. Give students an interactive role and learning just happens. Would it surprise you to know that the majority of people are not stuck in their head? Most of us already learn through experiences. I am looking forward to InterPlay leaders who will open doors for other educators to learn the best practices of this approach.

PS. I love Gretchen Wegner’s blog about InterPlay, Education etc. Lots of cool links there.

I am also celebrating Courtney Goto’s successful Emory University doctoral dissertation defense using InterPlay as a practice for formation and spiritual development. Go team!


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